Honoring American Workers
By: Sen. Bill Heath (R-Bremen)
Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer and is known as the “working man’s holiday.” This first weekend in September is also one of the busiest travel seasons of the year as many Americans celebrate the closing of summer and usher in the beginning of fall.
America was built upon the hard work and ingenuity of ordinary, everyday Americans – people who understood the value of sacrifice and devoted themselves to securing economic opportunity for their children and grandchildren.
As a nation of immigrants, hard work is part of our foundational DNA. For centuries, people have traveled to our shores in hopes of obtaining the American dream, taking odd-end jobs or working in factories to put food on the table for their families. No job was beneath them because they understood the concept that success comes through sacrifice. To secure their families’ economic prosperity, people took jobs working in environments unthinkable today. These jobs ranged from harvesting crops and coal mining to laying the framework for our nation’s inter-connected transportation system.
This same work ethic was the catalyst that built our nation to be the most prosperous nation on Earth, allowing America to give out of its abundance to struggling nations across the world. This would not have been possible without the daily resolve of men and women who – although their economic outlook seemed bleak – held onto hope for brighter days.
Producing a strong labor force is about empowering individuals to work to their full potential. In the early days, labor unions understood this principle and acted in the best interests of individual employees. But now, these same unions that are supposed to protect their members are hindering productivity, dis-incentivizing personal initiative and effectively stripping away individual strengths.
Instead of functioning as conscientious, people-centered human resource departments, unions are now walking a fine line between protecting employee interests and becoming bureaucratically-controlled entitlement machines. To maintain the collective goals and homogeny of the group, workers are forever indebted to the union – regardless of whether it’s in their best interest.
Unions have also become notorious for penalizing non-union workers and forming picket lines to prevent dedicated employees from working when a strike has been declared. In addition, many union workers are given equal treatment, even if they haven’t put in an honest day’s work. This tends to perpetuate non-productive behavior and often results in promotions based on seniority, not merit. This behavior hardly brings out the best in people and acts as a buffer to personal growth. We cannot continue these actions when so many Americans face extraordinary economic hardship.
This Labor Day, many Americans are jobless and are working extended hours or taking on a second job. This “whatever it takes” attitude is exactly what our country needs to get back on the road to economic independence.
However, it will take decisive action to revive our economy. The last thing we need is more of the same hollow rhetoric and policies being espoused by media elites and Washington insiders. These same people use the buzzword “job creation” to earn political points, yet pass policies that undermine the importance of hard work and self-determination.
For every American who works tirelessly to earn a respectable income, there are a select few who are unwilling to get a job and exist entirely off of government assistance. This dependence on Uncle Sam was not what this country was founded upon. Hard times will come, and government welfare programs are there to provide a temporary safety net, but they were never intended to become lifetime paychecks. Having a job is an incredible opportunity for people to serve something greater than themselves while also developing a deep sense of accomplishment.
The 31st Senate District represents the best of small town America where working class citizens greet you with a smile and are likely to own the local mom-and-pop shop down the street. Small American towns such as those found within Haralson, Polk and Paulding County are truly the heart and soul of America. On any given day, it is not uncommon to hear about people making extraordinary sacrifices to serve their family and local community.
This type of initiative is especially needed with many of America’s baby boomers preparing for retirement. Even though times have changed, hard work is still the key to securing the American way of life for future generations.