Monthly Archives: August 2016

Labor Day – More Than Just Another Long Weekend

intra labor dayToday, most Americans associate the upcoming Labor Day holiday with family and friend get-togethers, BBQs, an extended weekend and the unofficial culmination of summer. However, like other commemorative holidays, the real history behind this day has become blurred.  Although, many of us have some idea of its origination, most of us would be hard-pressed to provide a detailed narrative.

With the Labor Day holiday only several days away, now seems the perfect opportunity for a bit of a history lesson. So, while you’re grilling your steaks, taking in one of the last beach days, heading out for a long weekend getaway or just enjoying downtime with family and friends, I hope you’ll take a moment out of the day to pay homage to the American workers who fought for the working conditions and wages we’ve come to expect today.

Labor Day, which is observed on the first Monday in September, pays tribute to the many contributions and achievements of the American worker. This day was created by the late 19th century labor movement and was declared a federal holiday in 1894.

Labor Day originated during one of American labor history’s darkest chapters. It was a time, in the late 1800s, during the height of the American Revolution, when the average American worker put in 12-hour days, seven days a week, to provide the most basic living for themselves and their families. Even children, as young as 5 or 6, despite restrictions in many states, worked in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning only a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages.

During this period in America, workers of all ages, particularly recent immigrants and those who were very poor, often faced extremely unsafe working environments, including insufficient fresh air, unsanitary facilities and limited, if any, breaks during work.

However, as manufacturing continued to flourish, becoming the major source of American employment, labor unions, which began to appear in the late 18th century, became more prominent and vocal. These unions began organizing strikes and rallies to protest the deplorable working conditions and to force employers to renegotiate workers’ hours and wages.

Many of these events turned violent and numerous lives were lost. On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from New York City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

This celebrated “workingmen’s holiday” began to take hold in other industrial areas across the country, and many states passed legislation making this first Monday in September official. However, it wasn’t until 12 years later, after the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike and the American Railroad called for a boycott, crippling railroad traffic nationwide, Congress legalized the holiday. Hoping to repair ties with the American workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

So, there you have it…the history of Labor Day in a nutshell. Now, if someone should ask you the significance of Labor Day this holiday weekend while you’re standing around the grill, relaxing by the poolside or possibly playing a friendly game of Trivial Pursuit, you’ll be able to spout off this brief history lesson…impressing all your friends and family.

In the meantime, I thought I’d leave you with one of my favorite Labor Day celebratory recipes. I hope you enjoy it and your holiday weekend!

Garlic and Oregano Baby Back Ribs

Ingredients:

4 pounds baby back pork ribs
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ cup olive oil

Directions: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the ribs in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet in one layer. In a bowl, combine the garlic, oregano, cayenne, salt, and oil and mix well. Cover both sides of the ribs with the garlic and oregano mixture, coating evenly.

Roast in the oven for 1 hour, flipping once after 30 minutes. Remove and let rest, covered, for 10 minutes.

For a delicious addition, place 6 shucked ears of corn in another roasting pan or on a baking sheet and roast in the oven with the Garlic and Oregano Baby Back Ribs. Baste generously with butter and flip, with the ribs, after 30 minutes.

Social Media – Shaping the 2016 Presidential Election

american_flag-971804Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, or some affiliation in between, if you’ve spent any time on the social media sites lately, you’ve noticed a dramatic upswing in political posts.

Today, approximately 87 percent of the American public is on the Internet, and more and more of these users spend an inordinate amount of time on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, the top three social networking sites. So, it should come as no surprise that social media has become a driving force in the upcoming presidential race.

Since the Republican and Democratic conventions, these social media sites have been abuzz with information, commentaries and debates from both political camps, vying for the public’s attention. Both candidates are increasingly viewing Facebook, Twitter and now even Instagram as strategic battlegrounds in their fight for the White House.

A recent Pew Research Center study finds that the public is getting more of their news this election cycle from social media than ever before. This study indicates that 44 percent of American adults are learning about the presidential election from social media and 24 percent are using social media posts as a source of election news.

Employing social media to obtain the seat in the oval office is not new. President Obama was the first president to successfully use social media to reach minorities and young voters in both the 2008 and 2012 elections. His Ask Me Anything on Reddit, an entertainment, social news networking service, and news website, quickly became one of the most popular threads of all time.

However, during the previous elections, the candidates favored calculated statements that were highly controlled and sanitized, according to Patrick Ruffini, Republican political strategist and founder of Engage, a digital media firm. Today, Ruffini says, the candidates are exploiting it to champion an opinion and even issue a policy proposal.

Social media is a platform with the potential to reach millions of people…and in politics, that’s half the battle. This platform lends itself to imagery, which is significantly more effective than dry, non-engaging text. Via videos and succinct messages, candidates can bring the public along with them on their campaign trail and appeal to a younger generation that demands its information chop-chop.

Donald Trump has always been a fan of social media, actively using it to promote his television show The Apprentice. This medium suits his campaign style…spouting his often controversial sound snippets that are easily shareable. Much of his campaign is built around “virability,” and he has a huge online audience to prove it.

Hillary Clinton is no novice to social media either, benefiting greatly from celebrity endorsements on Instagram. A selfie with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, along with their endorsement as well as the public backing of Lena Dunham and Amy Poehler helped her capitalize social media engagement.

In recent months, social media has threatened to overtake traditional news outlets and paid advertising as the top resource for the candidates to rally voters, go after their rivals and make news. The presidential race has become a fiercely competitive battle to harness the power of social media to generate the most buzz.

The ability to reach the millennial demographic is an important aspect of each candidate’s campaign effort. It is a well-known fact that young adults are shifting more and more of their attention online to social networks. Consequently, the candidates are incorporating more and more social media in their campaigns to stand out to millennials.

Political ad spending is expected to reach an astounding $11.4 billion during this election, 20 percent more than the amount spent in 2012. But, even more surprising is that spending on social media is estimated to account for more than half of the $1 billion budget for digital media.

The bottom line is that social media has become a political game changer. As the election draws near, the American public can expect to see the increasing use of social media by both candidates to shape the election and improve their chances of securing the highest office in the land.