Monday, September 1, 2014

The History of Labor Day




            One of the most misunderstood days on the American calendar is Labor Day.  Labor Day is perhaps the only sarcastic holiday in the entire world.  The day traces its roots back to New York City in 1882.  At that time there was a benevolent factory owner named John Fitzpatrick.   Fitzpatrick had been an Irish immigrant himself, but through his own blood and sweat, he had managed to purchase a soap factory.  It wasn't glamorous, but he made a good living for himself and for his family with the soaps he produced.
            Like a lot of the business leaders of the 19th century, Fitzpatrick wanted to make a profit, but he cared first and foremost for his workers.  If they had a problem they not only knew they could always come to John, they knew he'd probably come to him first.  The Fitzpatrick Soap Factory was like one big family with 60 members.  The workers enjoyed their jobs and John had loyal workers.
            Then the International Brotherhood of Soap Factory Workers came to town.   At first, John's employees resisted joining the union, but a couple of his men got greedy and before long union membership had spread through the factory like venereal disease through a Parisian brothel.  Now, when it was time to discuss money or working conditions, instead of seeing one of his loyal workers sitting across the table from him, John had to deal with a suit wearing thug from the IBSFW. 
            John paid his workers 8 cents and hour, but once the union was running things, they demanded 14 cents an hour.   This was more money than John could afford.  Even though he wanted to pay his workers well, he knew this would bankrupt him.   John offered to pay 10 cents an hour, which was a 25% raise and all the money that he could afford.  The IBSFW didn't care and they immediately took the workers out on strike.
            For weeks the strike raged.   The union hired thugs and they smashed the windows on the factory and broke the lock on the front gate.   Things began to get violent and John was worried that somebody would be badly hurt, so he conceded.  He called the union and let the workers know that he was willing to pay the 14 cents an hour they demanded.
            When the workers returned to the factory, they sheepishly looked around at all the damage their strike had caused.  They all assembled in the factory yard, excited to return to work feeling that they had won something that they fought for.
            A very tired John Fitzpatrick walked out to greet them all feeling every bit of his 56 years of age.   The men smiled as he approached and asked John what he wanted them to do.   John was so disgusted he looked at his expensive work forced and told them, "Oh boys, you've worked so hard with your strike and everything.  Why don't you rest up from all your labor.  You can start working tomorrow."
            To John's surprise, the workers let out a mighty cheered and happily the men shuffled out of the factory yard.   John shook his head and sighed.   Somehow, those workers had missed the sarcasm in his voice.  "The next thing you know, they'll be wanting a parade or something," he said to himself.
            Unfortunately, the greedy workers had killed John Fitzpatrick' business.  Within 6 months, the factory was boarded up and the workers were out of jobs.   The one remnant of the factory was the holiday that John Fitzpatrick had created sarcastically.  Labor Day has grown to be a national holiday and workers everywhere owe it all to one soap factory and the sarcastic boss that created a national institution.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Reforming Education Must Be Our Number One Priority

To look at it, it's not a very imposing school building.  It almost looks more like a home or a lodge than an educational institution.  You wouldn't find a computer lab or a playground for the little ones, but Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie School is exactly the type of education that we must try to provide for all of our country's children.  How influential was it?  Here's a sampling of quotes I found:

The Encyclopedia of Chicago defines the Prairie School by saying, "[it] began in Chicago yet rapidly spread across the Midwest. Ultimately its influence was felt around the world—most especially in north-central Europe and Australia. Its origins date from the 1890s."

 Asia-Pacific Journal says, "The influence of Frank Lloyd-Wright's prairie school on Japan cannot be overlooked."

It's worth noting that Japan has one of the highest achieving school systems in the world.   Now, the Prairie School was not inside a school district.  In fact, I've had a hard time finding its location other than that it began in Chicago.  It was a labor of love from one man who had already established himself as one of the most influential architects in the world.  They had no tenure or teacher unions.  In many ways, Frank Lloyd Wright established the country's first charter school.  This influential school should be an inspiration for all people who value education everywhere. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

On the Border with Rick and Louie


When something important like the border crisis comes along, I don't believe in patience.  I certainly didn't believe in waiting until Congress has the month of August off to do something about the problem.   Yesterday, I joined fellow Congressman Louie Gohmert and Texas Governor Rick Perry for a morning patrol of the border region.

I find myself outraged when I see immigrants from Central American countries like Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador when the United States has spent so many years looking out for the welfare of their people.  When a government that was too socialist or wanted some crazy scheme to take unfarmed land and give it to poor people, we have always been willing to intervene.  When the people of those countries rose up against socialist governments, we have always been willing to support democracy by training rebels at the CIA and supporting militaries when the will of the people was for a coup.  After we gave their countries the American dream, it seems like such ingrattitude that they reject it to come here to the land we stole from Mexico fair and square 160 years ago regardless of what Abraham Lincoln said.

Don't let malnutrition fool you.  These illegals are wiry and they are a crafty opponent.  Once we let them into the country, who knows what sort of evil they will do.    That's why it's important that we meet them head on with force, even if it means inadvertently blowing up a church or camp bus or two.


We made quite an impression when we met agents along the border.  They even started calling us, The Electables.    Sadly, we didn't get to shoot any illegals, though we did wing a very tan Italian-American who happened to live near the border.    With Rick and Louie manning the guns, I flew an attack helicopter deep over the border, but the children at the age are just so small, they're much harder to spot than I had hoped.  Still, it felt good to know that we had done our part for the good old USA.  It's our border, we all must protect it.

Louie and I promised Rick that we'd come back in August.  I know Texas, isn't part of my district, but as a Congressman you go where the trouble is.  It's just what we do.

Monday, May 26, 2014

University of Western Topeka Spring 2014 Commencement

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at the University of Western Topeka's 2014 graduation. This is a great school and there's a reason that it's known as the University of Michigan of Kansas. You can visit the UWT web page at http://www.uwesterntopeka.org/

Friday, February 14, 2014

Finding Love with A Conservative Man



Well, tonight I was going to write an article about how to find love with a conservative woman.   However, after sitting through an insufferable dinner at Applebees where I listened to my date discuss her views on global warming and I realized I really don’t have a clue how to find love with a conservative woman.  What I do know is what I like, so I thought perhaps an article aimed at conservative women on how to date conservative men would be more useful to my readers.

Meeting a Conservative Guy
  • Tea Parties are what fondue was in the 1970s.   A lot of guys aren’t that good at spelling and a misspelled sign gives you a great opening to approach a guy.  The numbers favor the men and they’re all conservative so make this your first stop.
  • Gun shows are a sure shot.   Guys love guns and if you act knowledgeable, guys will quickly take notice.
  • NASCAR is a winner.   The numbers are very male dominated and this sport is very easy to understand.  The cars just keep going around in a circle over and over.
What Not to Do
  • Don’t talk about past boyfriends.  It makes us feel insecure.
  • Don’t share your views.   We really don’t care.   Sure, we’ll nod and act like we’re interested, but we’ll probably be looking over your shoulder at the television set.
  • Avoid talking long term. If the Bush administration taught you anything, it should be that we’re terrible at long term planning.
What to Do
  • Offer to pay for our meal too.   Let’s face it, traditional family values may say the guy should pay, but our economic conservative hearts will be glad to save the cost of the meal.
  • Make friends with his father.  If things don’t work out, he will probably be the one paying you off to keep quiet.
  • Spice up pillow talk with conservative nicknames like The Gipper or Dutch.   In general if you can make Reagan references, it’s a good idea.
Don’t be alarmed if he cries before, during, or after sex.   This is something all conservatives do.  If you follow these simple rules and show him the love and affection he needs, your conservative relationship can last you long after the sex stops being enjoyable and you still feel any affection for each other.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pick Up Your Paint Brush and Honor Reverend King



The liberal media, for obvious reasons, likes to portray Reverend Martin Luther King as a social reformer who fought for the rights of African-Americans in the South and then in the last 3 years of his life, took his campaign national and fought for workers' rights, and end to poverty, and an end to the War on Vietnam.  Of course, this is all a falsehood.  

Sure, Martin Luther King did all these things, but that represented only a small portion of his life.   Like any black man in the South during the 1950s and 1960s, he got swept up in the civil rights movement.  Because people knew that he could motivate people.  Where did his experience as a leader come from?  Mostly, it came from his campaign to beautify the South.

Martin Luther King first came to prominence in 1955 when he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  In those days, the buses were not air conditioned and a lot of sweaty commuters in close quarters would cause quite a funk to develop on the buses.  The buses were also not regularly cleaned so papers, soda cans, and old newspapers cluttered the eyes.   Martin Luther King led a very successful boycott made famous when a woman named Rosa Parks refused to walk through refuse to the back of a filthy bus.

In the March from Selma to Montgomery, King joined a large contingent led by the SNCC in an effort to beautify a road that the state of Alabama was not taking care of weeds.  Even the Edmund Pettus Bridge had become overgrown with weeds.  Problems erupted when a white sheriff named Bull Conner who was embarrassed that black people were outcleaning the whites turned on fire hoses to quickly clean the bridge and in the process got many of the African-Americans hurt.

We recognize Martin Luther King for his dreams of painted schools and cleaned up parks.  To many people try to make King out to be some kind of social reformer, but I think if he was alive today, he'd be the first one to put down the picket sign and pick up a paint brush.  Would King care about voter suppression, a living wage, continued racism, or the war in Afghanistan---I doubt it.  King's main focus would probably be painting.   Sadly, Reverend King was shot and killed while trying to settle a garbage strike in Memphis, but he backed cleanliness to the end.   Regardless of your political views, this is an Martin Luther King that we can all get behind.