Happy International Workers’ Day, Uncle Sam! Sincerely, Civilization

Artist Lumen M. Winter’s mosaic mural at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington DC.


Dear Uncle Sam:


Happy International Workers’ Day! Or May Day, as some say!


No, not the kind of plummeting mayday cries you’re accustomed to—what with all your financial crises, your credit default swaps, your 37th World Health Organization ranking (despite your Number 1 expenditure status), and all that Gordon Gekko Fortune 500 Greed-Greed-Greed.


Say, damned good thing you spend more than $700 billion a year on defending yourself from Middle Eastern wedding parties. Just imagine the unemployment fiasco you’d have without the military industrial complex!


Speaking of unemployment, what’s the rate these days from Sea to Shining Sea? 6.7%? Not bad, not bad at all.


Shush, Norway! No, it is not okay if you rub it in that your unemployment rate is 3.4%!  Besides, we all know you have oodles of oil, unlike our American friends. What? No, I’ve never heard of North Dakota. They’re practically swimming in oil? Well, I’ll be.


But, seriously, you pesky little socialist nations, try to show some etiquette, will you?


Yes, Germany, we know you’re officially a federal parliamentary republic, but you know the Yanks think you’re as socialist as Barack Hussein Obama is Abyssinian! What’s that? Your employment rate is 6.7% too? As is Denmark’s? Not bad for commie wastelands. Not bad at all.


No, I don’t think we should also let them know that your citizens sunbathe nude in urban parks and that electricity prices across Europe continue to plummet due to increased use of renewable fuels. Just act distinguished and let them think God is punishing Europe for increased communist tendencies by sending Turks to live among them.


Okay, where were we? Oh, yes, Labor Day! Which your silly-willy President Grover Cleveland moved halfway across the calendar in 1887 because he was afraid that workers would continue to unite all across the Fruited Plain in celebration of the May 1886 bloody Haymarket Massacre in Chicago. I mean, look what happened that day: Chicagoans united to oppose horrific working conditions and to demand an eight-hour workday.


And what was the result? Um, we assume most of you are reading this article just before or after your 9-5 Thursday shift. If during, tsk-tsk.


By the way, ever heard of Sacco and Vanzetti?


If you learn nothing else from this little International Workers’ Day communique, please at least take the time to read about your own History of Labor. Seriously, the rest of the world is taking off the day to celebrate the blood, sweat and tears of the many downtrodden Americans who stood up for themselves and inspired many of us across the globe to do the same.


And when you finish reading that throwaway Nicholas Sparks novel, consider taking time this weekend—yeah, the weekend, you know, that extravagant 48-hour, freewheelin’ period brought to you by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America—to read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and Jack London’s The Iron Heel.  Also, George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier.


Then, if you’ve got some spare time after that, check out French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital, a dazzling magnum opus about wealth inequality poised as the first title since Das Kapital to make the upper class quake in its boots. Piketty’s readable tome confirms what your worker gut knew all along: that wealth, just like hot air, automatically rises to the top.


The solution: tax the hell out of the rich.


How vote the wealthy amongst us? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The workers? YES!


Hey, but don’t blame us! Blame our friend the Frenchman and his little encyclopedia of undeniable data.


In closing, we just wanted to thank you for this little labor holiday that started way back when in 1891. And it certainly didn’t hurt that the good folks of Cleveland went berserk three years later in 1894 to make it clear that the events in Chicago were no fluke.


Sorry none of you get today off while the rest of us 80 countries balter about the Maypole, drinking maiboks and celebrating our blessed “workhood!”


Yes, indeed, blessed. Heck, even the Catholic Church made May 1 “St. Joseph the Worker” Day in 1955.


Anyway, thought we’d send you this postcard from Paris.


Don’t be too jealous about those amazing workweek hours, universal health coverage and all those paid holidays. Trust us, just like all those nude sunbathers in Copenhagen, it’s all way overrated.


You may now return to your regularly scheduled capitalistic cage match.


{Originally published on the website Forward Progressives on May 1, 2014. The original article received more than 100,000 views.}

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