What is the Fruit of Your Labor?
The Labor Day holiday has come and gone, and summer is now a memory. As we enter the Fall season (or dare I say “Back-to-Reality” season), I thought I’d have a little fun with an analogy between the Labor Day celebration and the expression “The Fruit of your Labor”.
First some context.
The Department of Labor says that the holiday is rooted in the late nineteenth century, when labor activists pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers made to America. Itbecame a federal holiday in 1894.
According to History.com, “In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.”
Fast forward to 2021, the American workforce has come a long way and is entitled to quality work conditions and economic opportunities far beyond what could have been imagined back then.
Still, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been accused of being “that guy “who would work through holidays or take exception to the notion that a normally productive work day would take a back seat to celebrate a famous birthday or event. Maybe it was my up-bringing. My dad was an entrepreneur and I didn’t see too many “days off” in his schedule.
Don’t’ get me wrong, I long understood the emotional and physical benefit of having a “day off”, an opportunity to re-charge or to show reverence for special people and events. But as a young adult trying to make my bones in the mid 70’s, the only thing I understood about holidays was that if I didn’t work, I didn’t get paid. Money was my fruit and without my labor…I didn’t eat.
Even though some “no work, no pay” still exists, I’ve learned to appreciate that the Labor Day celebration represented the significant role labor unions played to set the table for much of the fair and equitable work conditions Americans now enjoy. Things like 5-day work weeks, paid holidays, maternity leave, sick days and vacations slowly became the norm during the industrial age in America.
Eventually, higher wages followed, some with retirement opportunities, matched contributions for employee saving programs, job training and higher learning incentives, to name a few. All things that could be taken for granted now, particularly if you are not cognizant of the historic struggle for better job and pay opportunities as well as the consequences if those benefits are delayed, suspended or no longer available.
The Fruit and Labor Analogy
Across America, and particularly the southern regions, enslaved Blacks or even newly freed slaves that survived as Sharecroppers during Jim Crow era, all understood that the fruit of their labor was literally the fruit, or vegetables that they grew. Every day, they worked in the fields to water and fertilize the soil, inspect and pick the crop at peak times and conditions. All done to increase the crop value and protect it from insects, weather events, animals and man alike. They did it with a simple rake and due diligence, because they were neither entitled with today’s benefits nor insured against the consequence of bad management of their precious fruit.
Moral of the Story
Today we are so fortunate that the fruit of our labor comes from multiple sources. Company Pensions, Social Security, Private Stocks, Bonds, Insurance and Real Estate. The privilege of making money carries with it the responsibility to grow and protect it. And the more you make, the greater the task.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was quoted to say, “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield.” *
I challenge you to grow and protect the fruit of your labor with the diligence of a sharecropper. If that’s not your thing, find a qualified financial expert willing to put on work gloves and lend you a hand.
"It’s Your Life, Plan For It."
Eric Bailey is a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors.
Securities and advisory services offered through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker/dealer (Member SIPC) and registered investment advisor. Insurance offered through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies. Bailey Wealth Advisor is not an affiliate of Lincoln Financial Advisors. CRN-3762106-091421