BISMARCK, North Dakota — The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, Sept. 7, 2015
What are you doing the next 55 years?
Many North Dakotans will take today off from labor. It will be the last hurrah of summer — a day at the lake or park, a golf outing or a chance to crash on the sofa. Some will do work at home that has been delayed, finding satisfaction in completing delayed tasks. There will be many ways people spend the Labor Day holiday.
There probably won't be much thought given to the meaning of Labor Day. The holiday, the first Monday in September, was created by the labor movement to honor the social and economic achievements of American workers. The first recognition of workers came in 1885 and 1886 on the municipal level. The effort gained strength until Congress approved the holiday in 1894.
The labor movement — unions — doesn't have as much clout as in the past. So less attention is devoted to the reason for the holiday and more focus is put on enjoying the time off. We should, however, remind ourselves of the importance of the holiday. We also should remember how the labor movement helped shape and build the nation. And young people should ponder their future role in the world of work. The odds are the students coming out of high school and college will be working longer than their parents. They may have to work longer to collect Social Security and they will likely live longer.
So if you are in the 18- to 22-year-old range, what are you going to do for the next 55 to 60 years? Make your fortune and retire by 30? That's unlikely for the vast majority of people. Choosing a career is one of the toughest and most important decisions people will make. There's no rule that says you can't change careers during your life, but making that initial decision at 18 or 22 can be scary.
In the 1880s when Labor Day was created most workers were just happy to have a job. What they fought and sacrificed for were better wages and decent working conditions. Our expectations have changed over the decades. Pay remains an issue for many, but job satisfaction and a sense of worth has become more important. It's more than an eight-hour job, it's a career, a profession and a life.
Webster's New World College Dictionary's first definition of labor is: Physical or mental exertion; work; toil. A stark statement about what people will be doing most their lives. Or is it? If someone finds the right job on the first try, second try or third try, it can be one of the most enriching events in their life. When it comes to judging someone's life we look at their family, faith, contributions to others and their profession. We put a high value on work (labor).
Enjoy the day, but remember whatever labor we choose or have chosen, it will play a central role in the rest of our lives.
Minot Daily News, Minot, Sept. 9, 2015
By a stroke of his pen
What would William McKinley, who served as president from 1897 until he was assassinated in 1901, think of a chief executive who refused to obey the law of the land? Modern-day Americans can only speculate about that.
But they have first-hand knowledge of President Barack Obama's predilection for insisting the law is what he says it is, not what Congress has written in the statute books.
Obama did it again this week, declaring that henceforth, the highest point in North America will be known as Mount Denali. For decades, the official name had been Mount McKinley.
Regardless of how you feel about how the peak is referred to - and there are good arguments in favor of Denali - the bottom line is that a law enacted in 1917 and never changed gave it the late president's name.
That may be the law of the land, but little details such as that never stopped Obama before. In fact, he has been arrogant about it, declaring no one could prevent him from using a stroke of his pen to create, in effect, his own laws. He did it so many times with Obamacare that it is difficult to keep track of the changes he ordered in the law his administration wrote.
But now, by order of the president, another law has been trashed. One wonders what other statutes Obama will overrule during his remaining months in office