Labor Day is meant to honor the American worker, and at this moment, most American workers could use some high-fives.
American jobs are being disrupted by automation, shipped off to other nations or changed in ways that require constant re-education. Wages are stagnant. CEO pay is soaring. Unions and workplace protections are under constant attack and there are rules working their way through this administration that will make it harder to get overtime pay or even a fair shake if you’re gay, disabled or female.
It is a privilege, to be able to make a contribution.
Worse, you might be holding onto that job a lot longer than you planned because other rule changes are allowing financial advisers to pledge allegiance to their brokerage firm’s welfare instead of yours.
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This White House has so far done little to fulfill its vow to restore the U.S. working class to “greatness.” And as our climate deteriorates, it’s unclear what kind of economy will remain for our children. Hurricane Harvey was supposedly a “rare” Category 4 storm, but there’s already another one forming off the coast of South America. Hello, Irma.
Yet there are consolations, especially in California. Unemployment here is less than 5 percent, and some real gains have been made in pay equity laws to rising minimum wages. There are jobs, many of them green, where only a decade ago, pink slips littered the landscape.
The American Dream has always required grit to obtain. And Americans learned a long time ago that if you can’t find work, you make your own. We also learned not to judge the worth of our effort through headlines about Dow Jones averages or Wall Street bonuses.
Here in Northern California, for example, we can raise a Labor Day toast to the workers who managed to keep our levees from letting go last winter, or who shored up the Oroville Dam in the nick of time. We can salute the farm workers harvesting bumper crops of almonds, wine grapes and tomatoes. We can polish some apples for the teachers welcoming California children back to school.
We can be grateful for the scientists and researchers who, in some cases, risked their careers to protect government climate data. We can thank those who rescue those who challenged our swollen rivers this year and those who provide the power for our air conditioners as we simmer in this relentlessly hot summer.
As we bemoan our own discomfort, think of the firefighters standing the lines from Yosemite to Shasta. If you’re not grateful for the work they’re doing, you’re not grateful enough.
If you want to show a little gratitude, and we hope you do, consider giving to the nonprofits that would not exist were it not for the toil of low-paid staff and unpaid volunteers. There’s certainly no shortage of need on this Labor Day.
Then, after sharing our bounty, it’s time to relax. After all, you’ve earned it.
Giving to Help Harvey Victims
There’s no shortage of need for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, and the need is expected to grow. Remember, your contribution is tax deductible only if it goes through a registered non-profit; otherwise it’s considered a gift. Here are some ways to give.
- The American Red Cross: Go to redcross.org or call 800-RED-CROSS.
- Text $10 by sending a text message “REDCROSS” to number 90999 or use your iTunes app to send $5 to $200.
- United Way: Text the word UWFLOOD to 41444 to donate to the United Way Flood Relief Fund.
- Salvation Army: Hurricane relief efforts can be made at helpsalvationarmy.org or by calling 800-SAL-ARMY.
- GoFundMe has coordinated pages with dozens of worthy causes.
- Catholic Charities has destination page: https://catholiccharities.org
- Americares provides specific medical help.