Saturday, June 11, 2005

A 150th Birthday Party

Friday night in Oshkosh. What a hoot! The sirens went off for the second night in a row. I did something very stupid. Rather than going for cover in case of a tornado I drove out to Menominee Park. I wasn't alone. It looked busier than Sawdust Days. Cars parked everywhere, lawn chairs set up, and people lining the shore as far as I could see. Are we that starved for entertainment?

In the Northwestern today is an article titled "Security contractor: Marines abused him in Iraq". This is one more example of a sad state of affairs regarding our servicemen. The pay in Iraq is something like $7.50 per hour for U.S. paid soldiers. Private companies in Iraq, working with U.S. tax dollars, pay their security people $10,000 to $13,500 per week to do the same thing that our U.S. servicemen are doing for $7.50 per hour. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that there is more than a tiny bit of animosity between these two groups of Americans. Expect to see more of this as the quagmire continues. For more:

This coming Tuesday would've been Robert M. LaFollette's 150th birthday. Fighting Bob is well worth learning about. He looked for problem areas and tried to legislate things that would improve the lot of the common man. When he pushed for Workman's Comp. he received death threats. Lumber barons such as Mr. Sawyer cringed at the thought of paying an employee to rest and mend following an accident on the job. Fighting Bob stuck to it and some of the first Workmen's Comp. checks in Wisconsin, (and possibly the planet), were received by workers in Oshkosh who got hurt in the lumber mills.

Fighting Bob graduated from the U.W. Madison in 1873. The speaker at his commencement was an Edward Ryan---who later became Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Some of Mr. Ryan's words were prophetic and profound:

"the question will arise, and arise in your day though perhaps not fully in mine: 'Which shall rule-wealth or man? Which shall lead-money or intellect? Who shall fill public stations-educated and patriotic free men, or the feudal serfs of corporate wealth?'"

It is unknown how much of this speech sunk into Bob LaFollette's head on the day of his graduation but it may have had a subliminal effect. His adult life was spent trying to keep corporations in line, allow them to make money, and refusing to let them turn their workers into slaves.

There is a big party scheduled this Tuesday in Madison for Fighting Bob. Nancy Unger who recently wrote a great book on him will be there. Her book can be found at the Oshkosh Public Library. Here are a few links to learn more:

1 comment:

AngelAiken AKA Thee U.M.O.G said...

Bob rox!!! We've learned a little about him at school lately and I am interested in more, especially because of Fighting Bob Fest.