One hundred and twenty five years ago, President Grover Cleveland signed a law making Labor Day a national holiday, essentially giving millions of Americans the permission to take the day off, all in the name of celebrating the contributions of the American worker.
Unfortunately, the joke’s on us, and here’s the punchline: Today, millions of Americans have to beg government for permission to work every other day of the year. Unfortunately, the consequences are no laughing matter.
Take the story of Eric Smith, a Navy medic who was forced to work as a janitor because he didn’t have the proper permission from the government to pursue the career of his choosing.
“I was told I would be wanted in the civilian workforce because I had proven myself a reliable leader,” Smith testified to Congress. “That did not prove to be the case. My military education and training did not translate because I didn’t have a piece of paperwork saying so.”
Smith isn’t alone. Incredibly, about one–third of Americans must get some form of permission from the government to do their jobs. That applies to a wide range of professions, including barbers, plumbers, real estate agents, sign language interpreters, florists, landscapers, coaches, interior designers, and many others. And no matter how qualified someone is, Americans must re-apply for permission to work when they move to a new state. That’s a costly and unnecessary barrier for countless Americans to earn a living.
That’s why the Goldwater Institute is fighting to solve the government permission slip problem with the Breaking Down Barriers to Work Act. This makes it easier for Americans to continue to work by ensuring their professional licenses are universally recognized when they move to a new state. Arizona is the first state in the nation to break down this burdensome barrier to work, and there are certainly more states to come.
This Labor Day, let’s remember that our freedom to profit from the fruits of our labor, talents, and abilities is at the core of the American Dream. We shouldn’t need permission from the government to put our labor to good use—and, by the way, we shouldn’t have to beg Uncle Sam to take the day off of work, either.