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9/1/03 - LABOR DAY - 2003-09-03

September 1st is Labor Day in the United States, a time to honor American workers for their part in building a free, democratic, and prosperous society.

During the more than two centuries since the establishment of the U.S. government, America has changed from a largely agricultural, frontier society into the most developed and powerful economy the world has ever known. This transformation was not the result of economic planning and direction by authoritarian rulers. It was the achievement of millions of Americans, including immigrants from many lands, with vision, enterprise, and willingness to work.

The rule of law was essential to the growth of the American economy. Property owners, including inventors, artists, and entrepreneurs, were protected from violence, extortion, theft, and fraud. Workers demanded and won the right to organize and bargain collectively. Information and ideas, the lifeblood of healthy economies, were exchanged unhindered by censorship and government controls. Most important, government itself was subject to the rule of law, with the U.S. Constitution strictly limiting the scope of government.

This Labor Day, the U.S. and its allies are working with the Iraqi people to build a free, democratic, and prosperous Iraq. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the work is challenging, but is going forward:

"In Iraq a dictator is gone, a people are free. They are returning to school. They are opening their universities. The power is being restored, the infrastructure is being rebuilt, the economy is starting to function."

Marketplaces are coming to life in Iraq, offering many goods, such as satellite dishes, that were once forbidden. Banks are open in Baghdad and will soon be operating throughout the country. Other credit facilities are about to open to provide loans to Iraqi businessman.

Most important, Iraqis are now free to establish a democratic government that protects their fundamental rights. As they build, the people of Iraq will find, as American workers have demonstrated, that where freedom flourishes, ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.