MacKenzie: Remember Labor Day when you vote on Election Day
Have you ever been thanked for the work that you do? Or thanked your co-workers, the custodians who clean your office and the people who bring your mail and sell you groceries?
While many of us – hopefully – have a day off this Labor Day, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect how the work we do binds us together.
Labor Day is a reminder that all of us, whether we are employed or looking for work, whether we work in an office or fill potholes in the street, are the heartbeat of this country.
We all want to live in a society where hard work and fair play pays off, where everyone has a fair shot at success because we play by the same rules. Yet many of our leaders have pushed a starkly different vision for our country’s future.
Over the next few months, we will have a choice between protecting America’s greatest strength – each other – or allowing our voices to be silenced by those with more money, power and influence.
Wall Street-driven elected officials have fought to keep the rules that allow the most privileged Americans to get ahead by gaming the system, regardless of the consequences for the rest of Americans. It’s a strategy that creates millions in corporate profit while leaving behind foreclosed homes and longer unemployment lines.
Not only does our tax code allow wealthy CEOs to claim a tax break for exporting jobs overseas, it allows them to look forward to paying zero U.S. taxes on the jobs and income moved offshore.
The richest 2 percent of Americans are allowed to claim larger and larger tax cuts. Meanwhile, less fortunate Americans are forced to pick up the tab as Congress votes to end Medicare as we know it and cut benefits for Social Security.
There is no clearer example of this philosophy than Republican vice presidential pick Paul Ryan. According to the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, his budget would deliver a hefty tax cut to the wealthiest Americans while stripping $127 million from health care, education and road repairs in New Hampshire alone.
Under his plan, the real job creators – our workers and our small-business owners – are out of luck.
The Ryan plan is just one example of why we need to stop rewarding politicians who rig the game for their wealthy donors. The flood of money into our election system has made many politicians more interested in helping those who bankroll their campaigns instead of the rest of us.
Is the work of a CEO more valuable than that of a nurse who is hard at work saving lives? Does an investment banker contribute more to our economy than the road workers keeping our highways safe for summer travelers and tourists?
Our economic recovery depends on recovering the vision of an America that honors and respects all work and the people who do it. Not just some of us.
That is why it is so important for all of us to make our voices heard – to insist that all of us play an important role in our communities and our country. We must elect leaders who really will stand on the side of the people they represent, not the extreme fringe.
Over the next few months, we will be hammered on every side by slick TV ads and mailers asking and cajoling us with promises of what they will or won’t do for us.
Our job is to take a step back and look at the issues. How do our candidates stand on the things that really matter?
Because in the end, we need leaders who will build shared prosperity and create an economy that works for everyone.
Most importantly, we need leaders who give America’s workers what they need to continue being America’s back- bone.
That’s how we can really commemorate Labor Day.
Mark MacKenzie is president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.