[Labor Day is a traditional time for political oratory, a holiday that finds Members of Congress and other public officials extolling the virtues of the American worker (and voter) at countless rallies and barbecues across the country. To save time for tomorrow morning's newspaper readers, we have computerized and distilled the most frequently used cliches and buzz phrases from recent political history, to produce the All-Purpose Labor Day Speech for 1979 -- suitable, as noted, for either Democratic or Republican orators making their appointed holiday rounds:]
Thank you, (Joe, Pete, Irving), for that flattering introduction, though to be honest I'm not sure I recognize the person you just described. In fact, for a moment there I thought I'd come to the wrong rally, until I looked out into the crowd and saw old Freddie McClung's familiar face and figured I was in the right place after all.
We go back a long way, Freddie and I, to those early years when Local 135 of the Amalgamated Pin Cushion Workers was just getting organized in these parts. Those were the days, eh, Freddie? But all that's ancient history now, and you younger members of the APCW -- that is, those of you who still have your own hair (pause for laughter, not forthcoming) -- aren't really interested in what happened to old warhorses like Freddie and me during the Punic Wars.
That reminds me of the story (Here tell joke about priest, rabbit and minister on the raft, sanitzed version for mixed crowd.)
Anyway, it's always a pleasure, not to mention a deeply rewarding experience, to come here to (Hamtramck, East Passaic, Peoria), in the heartland of America, on the one day of the year when we, as a nation, pause to pay fitting tribute to the American worker, the backbone of the greatest economic system the world has ever known.
It was, you know, the father of the American labor movement, Sam Gompers, whose wisely said, and I quote, "My inspiration comes in opening opportunities that all alike may be free to live the fullest," unquote. Let me say here and now that I endorse those sentiments right down the line, and you don't have to take my word for it, just ask old Freddie there and he'll tell you that when the chips are down, the die is cast and the fat's in the fire, Local 135 has a friend in Washington who can be depended on to hang tough.
of course, there's no such thing as a free lunch, and we've had our little differences now and then, but as old Phil Murray used to say, a good spat between friends helps clear the air, and if that's not an idea whose time has come, I don't know what is. It all comes down to what old Bill Green once told me, that if labor's friends don't stick together we're going to get stuck separately, so we might just as well learn to agree to disagree, roll up our sleeves and get down to business.
Now, I wasn't born yesterday with a silver spoon in my mouth and I know that a lot of you out there who live by the sweat of your brow have lost faith in the system, because we live in troubled times when people are saying, "I'm fed up to here with political double-talk," and, frankly, I can't much blame you. But I didn't come here to pull any punches. You know as well as I do that these are years of challenge and change, not to forget crisis, and as we enter the crucial decade of the Eighties more and more decent, hardworking, tax-paying Americans like yourselves are coming up, looking me straight in the eye, and asking, "Mr. Congressman, whither America?"
I can relate to that. After all, you don't need anybody from Washington to tell the people of (Akron, Providence, Wilkes-Barre) about the threat to our way of life posed by the shrinking dollar, gas lines, crime in the streets, police brutality, SALT II and (Choose 1 or 2) our despoiled environment/ecological kooks. Let's face it, millions of American workers who put in an honest day's work for an honest day's pay, with time-and-a-half for overtime, no more, no less, are wondering why their taxes are going into subsidizing cheap, inferior foreign-made pin cushions that are ripping off the American consumer.
Why?, you ask. A good question, but one not easy to answer in a complex society where we can put a man on the moon, but if all the regulations in the federal bureaucracy were laid end-to-end, they'd stretch from here to Venus and back four times, and you don't have to take my word for that either. Just ask old Freddie and Mollie McClung's son, who worked it out for his master's thesis at MIT because, unlike his old man and yours truly, he didn't have to take his education in the school of hard knocks, thanks to farsighted leaders of the labor movement like Sam Gompers and Bill Green and (Optional for Republicans) John L. Lewis and (Optional for Democrats from liberal districts) Eugene Debs.
In conclusion then, let me say that regardless of what the critics and doomsayers may think, the U.S. economy is still the strongest in the world, second to none, and for that we owe a debt that can never be paid to the people who make it all possible, the working men and women of America. United we stand, divided we fall, solidarity forever, send them a message that we're not going to take it any more. At least, not without double time for holidays.