Labor Day made many people think about organized labor, but the truth is that the most meaningful work in this country is done by a group that is generally unorganized, poorly paid and, although representing more than half of the world's population, is invisible in most decision-making positions.

I'm talking about women, and I wonder what our workdays would be like if they ruled the world.

Certainly women would address some of their more mundane concerns. Someone would invent a washing machine that could also dry clothes. And you can bet that pantyhose that did not run would be in the stores next week. High-heel shoes would cease to exist.

If women ruled the world, fabrics would be treated so that blood, grass and baby formula would not leave stains. Ring around the collar, which generally afflicts males, would no longer be a challenge to a woman's cleaning creativity.

Vacuum cleaners would operate automatically. Dishwashers would load themselves. And it would be against the law to design a house with a back door that opens into a kitchen, allowing flies, trash and dirty kids to contaminate food preparation at will.

In other words, housework would no longer be sneered at, but something to aspire to -- with pay.

If women ruled the world, there would be air bags for all seats of the family car, not just for the driver (who more than likely is a man). There would be day care not only on the job -- but at grocery stores, shopping malls and doctors' offices.

Certainly, the degrading and deadly practice of trading sex for crack cocaine would be ended. But women would also address more vexing problems, especially the allocation of scarce resources. The billions of dollars earmarked for Stealth bombers would be shifted to Aid to Families With Dependent Children, because women understand that babies -- not bombs -- are the future.

If women ruled the world, no child would graduate from high school unable to read, write, count -- or think.

No youngster would be sent to Iraq; troops wouldn't be needed there. The streets of America would already be filled with bicycles. And Saddam would be choking on his crude.

If women ruled the world, there would be better treatment for breast cancer, as well as a cure for measles and mumps. Birth control would not be messy, painful or fraught with life-threatening side effects.

Abortion would not be an issue. It would be a medical service that respected a woman's right to self- determination.

Surrogate mothering would be out. If women ruled the world, any woman who wanted to have a child could. Varicose veins and stretch marks would be badges of honor, not something to be hidden from view.

It was ironic that on Labor Day, a time supposedly set aside for respite and reflection, it was women who gave literal meaning to the day. In many cases, women were at their busiest, working overtime to make money for school clothes and supplies, off and running frantically from Labor Day sale to sale, almost magically stretching dollars even as they shrank in their hands.

Women, as housewives, single parents and working mothers, are forced to make do on limited resources, and must deal daily with the demands of children, husbands, lovers and family; work; and church and community -- the stuff that gives life meaning.

Yet, they are virtually unsung and unappreciated every step of the way.

From the labor of giving birth to the labor of love for family, women have proven time and time again that this would be a better world if they were in charge.

The only problem, I guess, is what would happen to the men. If women ruled the world, would they turn the tables on their fellow Homo sapiens, and harass and oppress them the way they have been?

Probably, for the fact is that if women ruled the world, there would be no need for things such as greedy corporate boards and intrusive global police forces, to say nothing of the men who run them.