For over 100 years now in the United States, the first Monday in September has been called Labor Day. The original Labor Day, however, was celebrated on a Tuesday (September 5, 1882) in New York City. It was organized by the Central Labor Union, and it wasn’t until 1884 that the first Monday in September was selected as the official day of Labor Day — or, as it was then called, “the workingmen’s holiday.”
On its website, the U.S. Department of Labor says this about Labor Day:
It is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers…. The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy.
But did you know that none of this is accurate?
The fact is, there’s one and only one way to increase employee pay while simultaneously shortening employee hours — and that one way has nothing at all to do with labor unions.
It’s through advances in technology:
By replacing bare hands with shovels, by replacing shovels with tractors, by replacing tractors with new inventions, and so on — that is the only way to ease the plight of the worker.
As the economist Joseph Schumpeter put it, technological advances are what in turn enable businesses to produce ever more with ever less, and this is the only thing that advances standards of living, including worker wages and worker hours.
Technology, which capital investment fosters, is and always has been the one and only way to raise the standard of living — for everyone:
[P]retty much all of the gains from the Industrial Revolution went to unskilled labor: rents barely changed, therefore the gains from industrialization were not absorbed by landowners; interest rates barely changed, therefore the gains from industrialization were not absorbed by capitalists; wages — particularly unskilled wages — exploded. The idea that collective bargaining was necessary to prevent worker exploitation is a historical myth (Professor Art Carden, “Labor Day And Freedom,” 2008).
It is for this reason that the capitalists are the people whom we should truly celebrate on Labor Day — not the union thugs with their hatred and their long history of violence toward anyone like me who are not and never will be a union member.