In our opinion: Labor Day revisited

Deseret News editorial

Published: Mon, Sept. 1, 2014, 12:00 a.m. MDT

 Day laborers wait for work in Chandler, Ariz in 2010.

Day laborers wait for work in Chandler, Ariz in 2010.

(Matt York, AP)

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Labor Day “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.”

These are lofty words, but they don’t fully encapsulate the enormity of what American workers have accomplished over time. They also don’t specify that the vast majority of these workers were immigrants who arrived in this country with little or nothing to their name. First-generation Americans came from all over the world to try to build a better life for themselves and their families. They received low wages and often faced discrimination and hardship, but they recognized that their sacrifices would benefit their children and grandchildren. In that sense, immigration was a selfless act, inspired by hope for greater opportunities for generations yet to come.

Times may have changed, but that spirit of hope that brings people to America remains as bright as ever. Unfortunately, our current immigration system is not nearly as accommodating to those dreams as it was in the past. Legal immigration is an arduous process that often takes a great deal of time and money. This creates perverse incentives for people to enter the country illegally, which results in a host of problems that the current system is inadequately equipped to solve.

Unfortunately, too many in Washington, D.C., are more interested in scoring cheap political points with regards to immigration policy than they are in finding workable solutions. This has prompted President Obama to consider taking drastic unilateral action to fix the problems that Congress refuses to address. While we applaud the president’s willingness to engage on this issue, we also recognize that he is constitutionally unable to override legislative authority.

Should the president choose to take action that violates that principle, that would spark congressional action that would likely complicate the issue even further. The wiser approach would be for Congress to hammer out a compromise that the president can sign. It certainly won’t please everyone, but that’s the nature of the legislative process. The perfect need not be the enemy of the good in this instance.

On this Labor Day, we do well to remember the successes of the workers who have gone before. At the same time, we need to fix what isn’t working in order to accommodate a new generation of immigrants who want nothing more than to contribute to our nation and pursue the American dream. That’s how we can strengthen the country that we celebrate on this Labor Day.

1. Mountanman
Hayden, ID,
Sept. 1, 2014

Before there can ever be any workers, there needs to be another group of people; entrepreneurs. Creative people who are willing to take a huge capital risk and market an idea and create new products and services and invent a way to produce and market the idea successfully. Your smartphone, your ipad. Facebook, Federal Express, etc. are examples of creating products before the demand even existed. For entrepreneurs your product must precede the demand, you must create it before consumers even know they need it. This is how wealth is really created. No entrepreneurs, no workers, no wealth! Obama was totally wrong when he tells entrepreneurs, "You didn't build that". Entrepreneurs actually do build that! No entrepreneurs, no workers who benefit from the creativity of others. Punish the wealth creators and soon there will have no workers or we will have workers who are all paid poorly! That is exactly the reason socialism/communism has always failed and always will! Entrepreneurs are the life blood of prosperity, especially for the workers!

2. Third try screen name
Mapleton, UT,
Sept. 1, 2014

Heavens, the DN editorial board has fallen. This piece sounds like it was written by the SEIU.
There was a time when labor unions defended the American worker. Now they are amnesty advocates.
Never before in our history have so many defended the actions of fraudsters and trespassers.
Fortunately, the rank-and-file don't buy the self-serving hype of the elites.

3. Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT,
Sept. 1, 2014

Labor, workers, employees, indentured, slaves, or what ever other name they might be called, they are the people who create wealth with their minds and bodies. And who's wealth is taken from them for the benefit of someone else.

4. SLars
Provo, UT,
Sept. 1, 2014

The SEIU is an International Union. They want unionized labor, and don't care about citizenship or countries. It's sad seeing the work of American labor being dismissed, and credited to people newly arrived. The second generation are native and not immigrants.

As far as I can see, the only thing wrong with our immigration system is lack of enforcement. And since 1976 it's been easier to come here (over one million each year, 3.2 million work visas) than any time in history. (before 1976 we allowed in 500,000 per year).

5. Frozen Fractals
Salt Lake City, UT,
Sept. 1, 2014

" Obama was totally wrong when he tells entrepreneurs, "You didn't build that". "

Let's see...

Obama: If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.

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