We Have Labor Day, Why Not Capital Day?
Lawrence Reed of the Foundation for Economics and Education wonders why we have a Labor Day and not a Capital Day. He notes that, far from being at odds, capital and labor have a symbiotic and mutually-beneficial relationship which ought to be recognized:
Capital without labor means machines with no operators, or financial resources without the manpower to invest in. Labor without capital looks like Haiti or North Korea: plenty of people working but doing it with sticks instead of bulldozers, or starting a small enterprise with pocket change instead of a bank loan.
Capital can refer to either the tools of production or the funds that finance them. There may be no place in the world where there’s a shortage of labor but every inch of the planet is short of capital. There is no worker who couldn’t become more productive and better himself and society in the process if he had a more powerful labor-saving machine or a little more venture funding behind him. It ought to be abundantly clear that the vast improvement in standards of living over the past century is not explained by physical labor (we actually do less of that), but rather to the application of capital.
This is not class warfare. I’m not “taking sides” between labor and capital. I don’t see them as natural antagonists in spite of some people’s attempts to make them so. Don’t think of capital as something possessed and deployed only by bankers, the college-educated, the rich, or the elite. We workers of all income levels are “capital-ists” too—every time we save and invest, buy a share of stock, fix a machine, or start a business.
And yet, we have a “Labor Day” in America but not a “Capital Day.”
Reed suggests that we alternate, yearly, Labor Day and Capital Day.
I’m not normally a big fan of all the “days” and “weeks” and “months” the government declares to raise awareness about this or that issue (do we really need a week to raise awareness about the insurance industry?), but if there is something that could use more attention it’s the fact that capital is indispensable in a free society that aspires to prosperity. There seems to be a sense, ingrained in our national consciousness, that profit is somehow an unsavory thing (or, at least, other people’s profits anyway).
But profit is merely the measure of the successful relationship between capital and labor.Tags: capital day, labor day