Hey, it's Friday, and we're on the cusp of a three day weekend! There was a guy in our local paper who pointed out that Labor Day was originally founded as a response to pressure by the labor unions (specifically, the Central Labor Union of New York City in 1882). There have been several blog posts on our paper's web site recently about how awful labor unions are, so this guy was advocating the idea that all of these anti-union people should demonstrate the strength of their viewpoint by just going to work on Monday, in spite of the holiday (I guess sending their children to work, giving up their insurance, and working 80+ hours a week without a pay raise would also show solidarity with the anti-union view).
Ooookay- in reality I understand that unions have suffered problems in terms of corruption and malfeasance, but I still think that they have a role to play in protecting the rights of workers and making sure that they are treated fairly. I'm not really into the idea of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and I don't believe that this is a case of a few bad apples spoiling the whole bunch. In fact, I really don't understand why so many people seem against unions these days, in an era of skyrocketing CEO salaries, international job outsourcing, benefit and salary reduction, etc.. I know there have been cases of union leadership getting out of control, but unions have also helped to secure a standard of living for middle class Americans in this country that probably would have never occurred without them. (I know you guys don't need to hear me spin yarns again of how my grandfather's union helped to pass lifesaving safety regulations in the iron ore mines and fought to get the miners decent wages and benefits...)
Anyway, all of this to say- enjoy your Labor Day! Labor Day is a celebration of American workers, and they're at the core of one of the most powerful economies in the world (even when we're in a slowdown, we're still an extraordinarily powerful force).
In other news, I watched Barack Obama's speech last night at the convention (transcript here), and I was pretty impressed. I thought he did a good job of better defining himself as a person, giving some concrete examples of plans that he wishes to implement, and pointing out many of the areas where things have wrong over the last eight years and where America needs rebuilding. Mostly, though, I was just impressed by Obama's ability to communicate directly, simply, and intelligently with his audience. He's clearly an articulate man of tremendous acumen, who's able to speak about issues in a clear language that just about everyone can understand.
While I have to admit that I've persistently had some reservations about Obama's level of experience, another part of me responds to the fact that he appears to be incredibly smart, level headed, and seems to have the poise and personality to make an incredibly effective leader. Maybe we don't want someone in office who has simply been worn down into conformity by 20 years inside the beltway. Maybe we want someone who has all of the raw tools (smarts, wisdom, personal presence, etc.) to carry out the job of president, but someone who's fresh and new enough to approach the job in a bit of a different way.
At any rate, I think Obama gave an excellent speech that most commentators would have to admit was impressive, even if they didn't agree with all of the content.
Huh. John McCain just picked his running mate, and it's Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. That's really interesting. I don't know too much about her. I doubt that McCain picked her because she's a woman, but it's interesting that he picked a woman in the wake of Obama's decision not to include Hillary Clinton as a VP candidate on his ticket. Certainly makes the McCain ticket more interesting, anyway (although, frankly, there are some conservative women out there who make Karl Rove and George W. look like peace-loving hippies- Anne Coulter, I'm looking in your direction). I'm going to have to learn more about Palin...