Labor Day, an opportunity for the working class to momentarily kick off those economic shackles and spend the day with their family, barbecuing and enjoying the privileges normally reserved for the leisure class. Or, at least, it used to be.

Now that most job growth takes place in the part-time economy, where workers work odd hours just to make ends meet, and no one is salaried, a hefty portion of the workforce will celebrate Labor Day by laboring all day. Or they will honor Labor Day by working just enough to remain out of poverty. But it need not be this way forever.

Perhaps there should be an international minimum wage that will create a stable working class. Or a unionized fast food movement that can turn precarious labor into a real career. Or the largest retailer in the U.S. could start investing in its workers, so it can make even more money.

Whatever happens, the current state of the American low-wage worker is deplorable. While Labor Day might be a scam to keep you miserable and poor, perhaps it isn't as dark as some writers might think. There's some positive signs out there, folks (fast food strikers, successes like Costco). And despair isn't going to help anyone, especially the people stuck behind a counter today.