Stablecoins on Labor Day

Samuel McCulloch
Samuel McCulloch
Sept 4, 2023
Stablecoins on Labor Day

It's Labor Day in the United States of America today, our public holiday that celebrates the achievements of the labor unions to break the oppressive bonds of their capitalist overlords and establish fair working conditions for adults.

While most people in the USA are out BBQing or spending time with family on this long holiday weekend, we should be reminded of its roots and how its struggle continues on globally for fair access to capital and banking.

History of Labor Day

Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated in the United States on the first Monday in September.

It honors and recognizes the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the country. The day is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers and is often seen as a day of rest and celebration, marking the unofficial end of summer.

The origins of Labor Day can be traced back to the labor union movement, specifically the eight-hour workday movement, which advocated for eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, according to plans by the Central Labor Union. About 10,000 workers marched from City Hall to 42nd Street and then met with their families in Wendel's Elm Park for a picnic, concert, and speeches.

In 1884, the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and by 1885, Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Oregon was the first state to make it an official public holiday on February 21, 1887. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, 30 U.S. states officially celebrated Labor Day. Following the deaths of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland reconciled with the labor movement. Legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law just six days after the end of the strike. This was seen as a way to repair ties with American workers and show that the government was concerned with their rights and well-being.

The Pullman Strike was a significant event in American labor history that took place in 1894. The strike began in the company town of Pullman, Chicago, where the Pullman Palace Car Company manufactured luxury railroad cars. The company's workers lived in a community owned by George Pullman, the founder and president of the company. In this model company town, Pullman controlled everything from housing to stores, churches, and libraries.

The economic depression of the 1890s led Pullman to cut workers' wages by as much as 25–50% while not proportionately reducing rents and other costs in the company town. This led to extreme hardship for the workers and their families. On May 11, 1894, some 4,000 Pullman factory workers went on strike.

The American Railway Union (ARU), led by Eugene V. Debs, supported the Pullman workers and called for a boycott of all Pullman cars. The boycott escalated into a nationwide strike involving some 250,000 workers across 27 states and territories. The strike effectively paralyzed the country's western railroad traffic and created a national crisis.

The federal government under President Grover Cleveland intervened, declaring the strike a threat to public safety because it disrupted mail delivery and interstate commerce. On July 4, 1894, President Cleveland dispatched federal troops to break the strike.

Violence erupted, resulting in the deaths of more than a dozen workers, and many more were wounded. The military presence, along with court injunctions, effectively broke the strike, and the boycott ended on August 2, 1894.

The intervention of federal troops was a highly controversial move and created an uproar among labor unions and advocates.

Cleveland's decision to send in troops was backed by Attorney General Richard Olney, who had strong ties to the railroad industry. The Pullman Strike marked the first time the federal government had used such a significant show of force against striking laborers, setting a precedent for future relations between the government and labor unions.

Shortly after the end of the Pullman Strike, as a gesture of reconciliation towards organized labor.

Although the immediate outcomes for the strikers were largely negative—wages were not raised, and many strikers were blacklisted—the strike brought the struggles of labor to national attention and made labor organization and collective bargaining issues of national importance.

We're passing through a similar time now in crypto land with stablecoins. Inflation globally is rapidly eating away at the purchasing power of people's salaries and savings. Capital controls make it difficult for many to access dollar markets.

Stablecoins offer an alternative to less worse national currencies experiencing high rates of inflation. The US dollar is seen as a safe haven and protection against the excesses and tribulations felt domestically.

However, the United States is trying to do everything in its power to prevent universal, global access to stablecoins, using all branches of the government to crackdown and even arrest developers who threaten presumed Federal power.

We're in a similar economic depression like in the 1890's, as workers wages have not kept up with rent and other costs. While we've been freed of the shackles of the company town, our financial livelihoods have fallen into the panopticon of Federal surveillance and control. Workers and business owners who fail to toe the line have their accounts blocked or even shut down.

Just this past Summer, UK politician Nigel Farage had his bank accounts shut down for what the bank believed were distasteful political views. While his case became a global story and a national scandal, other folks without large social media accounts typically fail to gain sympathy from the media.

Workers in the company towns had little control over their finances. They would be paid with chits that could only be used on company store items sold at a premium. Outside of the company town, their money was worthless, irredeemable pieces of paper used for control and exploitation. While we have made great strides since then, our digital financial worlds are rapidly being ring-fenced and neutered with the same ferocity as the mining bosses in the name of AML.

Today the labor movement of the 1890s is dead. Industrialization peaked in the 1940's and now only 10% of the US workforce are union members. The great achievements of the late 1800s have been replaced with political stunts and administrative largesse. We deserve better. We need a reinvigoration of immense outcries of the injustices laid at our feet by the criminals who fleeced our community these years. A new day for financial activism and freedom.

So while we celebrate this time off, it signals a new season and chapter to fight for our rights as laborer to transact and preserve wealth. Enjoy the last days of Summer.

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