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Lewis Hine was the photographer whose work led to the passage of child labor laws.
There was a time when our nation’s leaders had a conscience.
There was a time when Labor Day parades were a major event.
There was a time when labor unions provided a path to a secure, middle-class life for millions of people.
Now the parades have ended.
Now we have a new economic approach.
The rich get richer. Full employment. Stagnant wages.
The purpose of labor unions was to ensure that working people received a fair share for their contribution to their employer’s success.
Labor unions ensured that prosperity lifted up working people, not just shareholders, Wall Street speculators, and corporate owners.
We need them again. Working people need and deserve a collective voice. Now, more than ever it is time to spread the wealth, open new paths to the middle class, restore the dignity of work, and rebuild the hope for and the reality of a better life for all. To do that means to move away from the current emphasis on consumerism and libertarianism to a public philosophy that embraces the importance of the common good. That means a revival of the nearly forgotten concept of “We the People.” E pluribus unum. A shared destiny in which every life counts, in which we recognize our common humanity and our mutual obligations for one another, our brotherhood and sisterhood.
That won’t happen by wishing and hoping but by political action. It begins by voting out the agents of the current status quo. It must start now.