Working and learning improve our living

By the Herald editorial staff

For much -- but not all -- of the work force, Labor Day means a day off work.

It could possibly involve a barbecue with friends or family, some time at the river or maybe taking in a movie. It's a holiday that comes and goes without much thought as to the meaning of the celebration.

Labor Day was originally intended as a "workingmen's holiday" when it was first celebrated in 1882. In 2009, it seems like nothing more than an excuse for raising the price of gas a few cents to capture the holiday travelers.

Unemployment in this country is hovering around the 10 percent mark. We hope that means the other 90 percent have something to celebrate on Labor Day -- having a job, preferably one they love.

For the unemployed 10 percent, it's not much of a party.

The economy has slowed. Job markets are smaller and more competitive. And the global economy means that often we are competing for work against people in India, China or any other point on the globe.

For kids, Labor Day is officially the end of summer and time to get serious about school so that one day soon they can join the masses of the employed.

Here's a lesson in cause and effect for our younger readers -- typically speaking, more education results in a better-paying job.

Think about that for a minute. You'll spend 12 or more years in school, then 40 or so earning a living. Make sure now that you're getting enough education to qualify you for a rewarding career. The hours go by much more quickly that way.

That's pretty good advice for the rest of us as well.

If you're in a job you love, excellent. If you're not, work toward that goal.

Maybe you need additional schooling. Perhaps some specialized training. It might involve taking a risk. It certainly will require getting out of your comfort zone.

Even if you are in a field that you love, a curious mind is a wonderful thing.

We're fortunate in the Mid-Columbia to have plentiful access to education.

Seniors can audit classes at Washington State University Tri-Cities and Columbia Basin College for next to nothing. Kennewick offers a wide variety of classes to all Mid-Columbians through its Community Education courses.

Online courses have eliminated any geographic boundaries that may have kept your parents or grandparents from getting the education they wanted. Now the world is just a click away.

And an afternoon at the library can be pure delight.

We are out of excuses for not developing our minds and skills.

Learning is a lifelong process -- or at least it ought to be.