One week ago, we celebrated May Day 2012 across the world.  May Day has many origins, most dealing with Spring- but in the late 19th Century, the Haymaker Incident in Chicago occurred; since then, May Day has also been known as International Worker’s Day.  However, instead of standing with the American Worker in solidarity, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation on Loyalty Day, the government’s answer to citizens demands for working rights.

This isn’t the first time a US President has tried to disentangle May Day from the struggle for worker’s rights.  In 1887, just one year after the Haymaker Incident, Grover Cleveland moved to support Labor Day in September as the only official holiday in recognition of the American Worker.  During the 20’s, groups promoted “Americanization Day”, which became Loyalty Day in 1959, as a way to encourage what they deem as loyalty.

And yet, when Eisenhower signed the Loyalty Day holiday into law more than 50 years ago, he simply provided further evidence of a concerted lack of respect towards America’s working class.  There were (and are) three holidays that already make much better overlays for a day of professing loyalty to crown** and country, one of which is even in May: Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veteran’s Day.  The first and last are a testament to those who serve in the military, demonstrating loyalty, while Independence Day, being a celebration of America’s birth would have great synergy with a renewal of loyalty to the nation.  So, let’s take a short, logical look at the reason for proclaiming a 4th day to say “I Am a Loyal American”.

The people in power are often kept there by the people with money.  In fact, there is often a revolving door between the two.  To this rarified group of people, the working class tends to be a headache.  THEY want health care, THEY want safe working conditions, THEY want fair wages, THEY want this and THEY want that- the wealthy want to deny them that, for two reasons.  First, what they, the working class, wants, costs money- money most easily, and by the definition of society, reasonably, procured from those with the most money.  The wealthy didn’t magic into their money- they earned it, but from the people who paid for their products, the people who made them, etc…  (Assuming they didn’t inherit it- which is a common wealth transfer method, synonymous with royalty.)  In other words, the wealthy and the powerful are often the same group- the “Us” to the working class “Them”.

Several studies have looked at the massive rise in income inequality since the 1970s, when the trade unions were at their zenith in America.  A few recent ones have even pointed out that unions have become non sequitors in American politics, with SuperPACs and lobbyists completely usurping the collective say of the working class by the will of those who can pay for the most influence.  Labor union membership has diminished for various reasons, many of them directly caused by the executives in the board rooms who care only for greater profit margins.  Outsourcing, union busting, “right to work” legislation- all of this has had the effect of gutting unions, to the benefit of wealthy individuals who can now monopolize access to politicians- who then pass laws benefitting their rich friends and contributors.  This cycle of donation to access, as well as wealthy individuals being the politicians, has squeezed the working class citizen from true political participation- or either party.

Which brings us to a week ago:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/05/01/presidential-proclamation-loyalty-day-2012

Instead of taking the time to issue a proclamation in support of the working class, the working poor, the unemployed mere weeks away from losing their benefits, in the midst of one of our nation’s greatest economic crises, the President instead reminds us to be loyal to our country.  That we must rededicate ourselves to service of our nation, and by extension, our nation’s masters- the wealthy.

A quote from President Obama’s proclamation stands out: “On Loyalty Day, we rededicate ourselves to the common good, to the cornerstones of liberty, equality, and justice, and to the unending pursuit of a more perfect Union.”  Where is the justice for the working class?  While do thousands have to protest to even get a blip on the 24-hour news cycle, is there is equality, or even equity, in this country? And the liberty of those peaceful protestors being harassed, pepper-sprayed and arrested en masse for demanding the rights their forefathers fought and died for?

The President of the United States doesn’t say one thing about the millions of able-bodied men and women who want to work, but can’t find a job.  Nor does he speak of the millions more who work, but are denied a basic, living wage, let alone reasonable health care or other benefits.  He reminds us to be, not good citizens, but to be good servants to our political masters, who run the nation.

May 1st is a day celebrated worldwide by and for the workers who sweat and bleed to bring progress and provide for their family- don’t allow any government nor politician to take that away from you.

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