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Labor Day, 2009, a bit belated

The US recognizes the worker on the first Monday of September.  Many people take advantage of the long weekend by taking a short trip.  Some recognize the winding down of the warm season by heading outdoors and barbecuing.  And still others, in what could be considered an anti-labor gesture, shop the Labor Day sales (someone has to work those sales).

I went for option #2.  My housemate and I drove up to Petaluma in my midlife crisis convertible to spend the day with friends and eat food cooked in the great outdoors. I brought corn, and my housemate baked the loaf of bread in the photo on the left.  He attributes its odd shape to having to rise during the hour drive up to Petaluma.


I saw these fungi at right on a tree stump behind the grill.  I briefly contemplated tossing them on the grill, but I know absolutely nothing about mycology, and for now at least, am happy to be alive and healthy.

As I reflect on the meaning of the day, I also ponder the future of the worker.  The "stimulus" provided by the US government served to allow recipient companies the cash flow to be able to make massive layoffs in order to preserve the bottom line, which boosted the market a bit and allowed executives to receive bonuses.  Those who have benefited from the "stimulus," the executives and investors, are the ones who least needed help. 

No one sees any of that money trickling down to the (former) workers any time soon.  The vast majority of people, even those with jobs, have had to curb their spending. It is seemingly a Catch-22.  We stop spending because our dollars are devaluing rapidly, but the economy relies on spending.  When revenues are down, companies look to cut their largest expense.  And particularly when you take into account employer taxes, workers' comp insurance and benefits packages, that expense is Human Resources, so in a sense, we are cutting our own throats.  As it turns out, the mass consumerism we all bemoan was keeping us afloat, in a sense.

It has been speculated that these spending habits may persist for a considerable amount of time, so I imagine that out of necessity, the economic model will have to change, as well.  How, I don't know.  Will the government ease regulations or their enforcement?  Will boards of directors revisit executive compensation or even their own remuneration? Will the displaced workers form new types of businesses, or will they choose to revolt?  I guess we will find out in the months to come.