Labor Day

By Dr. Jim Ferguson

People ask me where I get my stories. I used to say stories just walked into my office, but these days I care for fewer patients in my small concierge medical practice, and I don’t have an office. Consequently, more stories come from medical journals, the news or my life.

I’m a student of history. The Founders of our country believed that the lessons of history should direct our decisions in the present. Elitist, narcissistic, post-modernists don’t believe that history teaches fundamentals of, for instance, good government. Solzhenitsyn understood history and wrote in his “Gulag Archipelago” that the way to destroy a people is by taking away their history. I’ve heard it said that if you don’t know where you are (or how you got there), any direction will do. Alice in Wonderland asked the Cheshire Cat what direction she should take, and any direction will do. Our leaders seem to use this perverse logic.

I was going to write about the aging heart and its rejuvenation. But now, “what difference does it make?” We just gave Iran a pathway to the bomb along with $150 billion to promote worldwide terrorism. Retiring Democrat Senator, Barbara MiKulski, just announced that she would side with fellow Democrats and Obama, and her vote will sustain Obama’s “deal” with the Iranian mullahs. How did we arrive at this notion of “peace in our time,” to use the words of Neville Chamberlain, as he tried to explain his “deal” with Hitler in 1938?

After the Civil War the Republican Party controlled the reins of American government. Republicans abolished slavery with the 13th Amendment, and then gave freed slaves the right to vote with the 14th Amendment. Virtually no Democrats supported these Amendments which are now the law of our land. Fast forward to the present and remember that NO Republicans voted for Obamacare.

After the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution came to America along with unfettered capitalism, and Karl Marx had just published “Das Kapital” decrying the exploitation of labor by capitalist employers. You may be surprised to learn that the labor movement in America began around the time of the American Revolution, but accelerated in the late 1800s as workers sought better treatment from their employers. Unions formed and strikes occurred when collective bargaining reached impasses.

Labor Day became a national holiday in 1887 as President Grover Cleveland sought to head off further labor violence as occurred with the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago. During these turbulent times, the Republican Party became associated with industry and capitalists, while the Democrats took on the mantel of populism and the party of the “little guy.” It fascinates me how misconceptions persist over time. The party of Lincoln freed slaves. Democrats held to Jim Crow laws until the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

In the late 1800s a populist movement known as progressivism also arose to improve factory working conditions and living conditions of the poor in large eastern American cities. Teddy Roosevelt was a Progressive Republican, and Woodrow Wilson was a Democrat-Progressive. Both believed that big government could improve society. Unfortunately for Wilson and the Democrats, their progressive policies of Prohibition and our national income tax were very unpopular. So, in 1924 Democrat-Progressive John Dewey suggested that they change their name to liberals (Democrats). These days only a quarter of Americans identify themselves as liberals, who are again changing their name to modern-progressives. Obama and Hillary Clinton call themselves modern-progressives. However, they aren’t alone in Washington. Big government Republicans like Mitch McConnell aren’t terribly different from those who still call themselves Democrats, though they are really progressives behind the facade. John Kennedy Democrats no longer exit.

It might be best to understand our leaders in Washington as the “ruling class.” The Beltway Boys and Gals see themselves as imperious and elitist. Case in point are Hillary’s private email accounts that put in jeopardy our national security and her Presidential candidacy. Washington politicos believe they know better than John Q. Public, though their morality and virtue seems in question almost every day. We no longer have statesmen like George Washington, Lincoln or a British Winston Churchill. Most of our politicos are churlish and more interested in party and self. And then you have the “media-class” who long ago sold their profession and souls to the Devil and now kowtow to Democrats because 85-90% of journalists vote Democrat, while telling us they are not biased.

We are now in the election season and fund raisers abound. Make no mistake, party leaders and candidates may speak of “main-street,” but the “donor class” of Wall Street and Hollywood pulls everyone’s chains, with the possible exception of Trump, who pays his own way.

President Teddy Roosevelt once said we shouldn’t be hyphenated-Americans, and used as examples Irish-Americans and Italian-Americans. We haven’t made much progress in a hundred years. The PC culture, the media and our leaders make us even more segregated than before. Now we have Africa-Americans, Latino-Americans and the divisions go on and on. I refuse the moniker of White-American, Conservative-American or heterosexual-American.

I recently read that humans are comprised of mind, body and soul/spirit. If you remove the latter a void results which can be filled by evil or idols. And we wonder why police are assassinated or mobs burn down their own neighborhoods as the libertine Miley Cyrus struts.

Tennessee is a great place to live. A friend once gave me a photographic book of our state, but what caught my eye was not the pictures, but the author’s description of our people. She said that our “greatness” is a result of “hard work, religious conviction and rugged individualism.”

I believe a cure begins with a proper diagnosis, and I agree with Ms. Forbes. Hard work strengthens the body. Being responsible for yourself and then helping others is the way to live well. And it all begins at the center with a relationship with God.

I hope on this Labor Day weekend that we think about more than a break from our labors, the Labor Movement or barbecue. The way to fix the world begins in the soul, where we reconnect with things much bigger than ourselves. When we get this right everything else will fall into place.

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