Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day, its More Than a Day Off.


Today is Labor Day.  End of the recognized summer, though most kids are already back in school and for us adults summer doesn’t carry the same weight as it used to.  Labor Day is about celebrating the social and economic achievements of workers.  First proposed and promoted by the labor unions of the late 1800s, it became a celebrated official holiday under President Cleveland and in its infancy was organized with parades, speeches and picnics. 

It became a day of mall sales and general retail bargains sometime later I suppose.  While I can’t see James Cash Penny, founder of JC Penny eager to take a day off, the day off for everyone else would be a chance for him to work harder so perhaps he was okay with it.

“I do not believe in excuses. I believe in hard work as the prime solvent of life's problems.”
-JC Penny

The late 1800s and early 1900s were a time of explosive growth in the US (even with a depression in 1983).  Men like JC Penny, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Nathan Straus and many more were building businesses and empires, America was buying and settling more land than at any point since Jamestown and as a nation we were making the sorts of gains not seen by many nations still in their infancy.  This was a time when American Exceptionalism and hard work were hand in hand.  Now, there isn’t a name mentioned free of controversy.  Men like Andrew Carnegie have been demonized by some and since history is largely written by those with the greatest stake in its telling, we sometimes view the past through the lens of today.  Hindsight gives us the opportunity to judge without having to experience.  Is empire a bad word?  Should one be demonized for being the best at what they did?  Is success in business not measured by assets and profits?  Labor Day, in my mind, is exemplified by men like Rockefeller, Carnegie and Vanderbilt before them.  

“I have always served the public to the best of my ability. Why? Because, like every other man, it is to my interest to do so.”
-Cornelius Vanderbilt

 Empires are built by the worker, guided by the managers and envisioned by the owners.  Not a single length of track could have been laid without the worker.  Not a single spike driven in without the hammer.  Not a single locomotive driven across the country without men like Dr. Thomas Durant and Charles Crocker.  Labor Day is indeed about the worker; but it’s not just about the wage earning worker, it’s acreate the work that we identify as celebrating.  Without the minds of the inventor, there is no industry.  Without the work of the owner, there is no organization, no opportunity and no Labor Day to celebrate.  



We have grown so large, so comfortable as a nation that the demonizing of profit has become engrained in our collective conscience.  Those men and women running empires today are demonized (sometimes rightly so) as only being interested in profits…as if businesses are started with the sole intention being failure?  By my mind, my will and my work, I create a product, an idea or a process.  I will provide either a good, or a service.  This creates a job.  My product has a price; that price is a reflection not only of the material cost but also of the worth of my time and energy.  The customer exchanges their money, which is a direct representation of the worth of their time and energy for that product.  We both profit.  If enough people come to me for that which I sell, I may hire employees.  This is how every business, every empire and every demonized company begins.   

Worth for worth.


Hard work used to be admired, and I understand in a way it still is; however these days it seems that the more social the work the more it is admired; the more industrial the more it is shunned.   Someone will be amazed by the steel worker’s bravery and resolve in the photographs by Lewis Hine as the Empire State Building came to life, yet look down on the construction worker of today, the garbage man, the van of painters, the truck of grounds keepers.   We don’t look at hard work the same way anymore, not as a nation.



Well, I still celebrate the worker, just as much as I celebrate the creator, the owner and the man rich from the profits of his worth.  In my industry I guess they are often one in the same.   I think about the ingenuity of companies like Magpul, Two Vets Arms, Unity Tactical, CMC Triggers and High Speed Gear; the work and customer service of Noveske, 556 Tactical, Glock and Jones Tactical.  As a business owner I am impressed by the work of Austin Weiss, Rob Tran, Kerry Davis, Willie Robertson, Dustin Ellerman, Ebbs at Haus of Guns, Steve Aryan at Grey Fox Industries, Ben at Ar15news.com and Zeke and Marty from Talking Lead.  As an Instructor I wouldn’t be where I am without the hard work and contributions of men like Dr. James Williams, Ken Good, Larry Vickers, Clint Smith, Benjamin Samuel Bloom and Dan Gray. 

As an industry, we still recognize personal relationships and putting in our worth; that’s what Labor Day is about.  At least, that’s what it is about for me.


Happy Labor Day.  Go create something.

-Aaron Cowan

3 comments:

  1. As young man you lucky to be your Grandfarther Keck he retried and you sister many hour her riding and on the back hoe .Learning what real work was how to do do math what the earth held in minerals and Stella where the real land was and how develope it safely and what we did squander our resources. You loved to watch him do math in his head and teach the value of doing right or doing it all. Son what getting I used his example of the year I was born 1956 he joined the union making ten cents a hour with year earning a dollar . When was seventeen he worked the arsonial at Benica making less than but not his social security slip I have those disappeared Becuase the mesoianomia law suits . My farther would work anytime he could in sixty after serving his county he could find work he first real labor job was the bridge build after Golden Gate that spaned Carcinis straights second span no net six inch wide boards they walked. But my family spaned the history here back to1706 Pa. They spent hoildays then ten kids my dad was war hero did brag about his brother one a snipier Army for the CIA Gene Aaron never heard much of favorite Navy what now is called the seals Bronze star purple heart Army , Slvier star Navy uncle my dad who had three boats blow out from under him and got between his friends in a chow line when a Philppino blew his self up never excepted thing and ask. Aaron remembers them talking about roping and wild horses that were tamed while sometime he start rubbing his face a metal come out and he bleed and just go on laughing slapping his leg . He was all family you came together to calibrate having a job a great family and giving back . My Grandfarther brought his family to California in 1942 Becuase the dust bowl depression made a ranch from the 1800 Oghena Oklahoma near Norman may spelled the name where a poor German man took a Indian women and her mother in camp raid she had a slave to a Siminonal camp. They went on in rich body land grow three generations and feed and replenish there family working side by side hoildays were family friends and only three a year. Each generation past on work ethic and family really respecting there my husband side had it bad to Irish same area of Oklahoma. These generation and up till sixths we respected that my brother generation played more than they worked not him but half until the eightys recession but for my dads generation and President Reagan pulled us out labor and Miltary saved a nation again here home. Aarons generation and the next will have do the same to save us now you of his friends who served in the Gulf war but need a leader some one has to step up and hope its Ron Paul's son .Then old money and new money will learn to invest U.S. in there and family's and friends future to many more generations . I have always told my son and daughter you don't know where you need go in your life until you where they past has been you roots family . One Great Nation Under God and the great who you they were .Play hard work hard and pass on your family history so the new generation will prosper and keep family friends near even if like great Grandfarther Keck ,I e Cowan you take Three vacations a year but have to take Veterens day also. My generation was the first to smoke and drink like my olders brothers who thought what I do no body's business but mine LS D and what Evers in the soaps Ok but half his class died of Aid four murders out 150 kids .Makes you think dosen't it you always think there's time neither I or Aaron's farther worked union and my generation Baby boomers are large in number but we won't retire early for the most part I did give back and will again after my Heath gets better and Happy Labor day I spent many a day in the back county of California that's now dislocation you only see with a permit to hike. Love you son and you and Tiffany make great couple can't wait to meet her and her hard working family.

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