Late Night: We Built This City

I'm heading back to Omaha Friday where I'll be until after court ends Monday afternoon. This sculpture [larger version here] is my favorite of the many public art works there. It's a tribute to the workers in the labor unions that helped build Omaha and is the second largest labor memorial in the country.

Two hundred-fifty tons of cement and 39,000 pounds of steel were used to create a towering monument to union labor that overlooks the city of Omaha on the banks of the Missouri River. The $600,000 sculpture titled “Labor” features workers cast in bronze who represent the diverse legions of union laborers who helped build the riverfront city....The three-story sculpture anchors a riverfront park that includes a pedestrian walkway.

...“Since it’s beginning, Omaha has been a working person’s town,” said Terry Moore, president of the Omaha Federation of Labor. “This is a monument to their legacy.”

Along the pedestrian walkway are iron plaques, I counted more than 25 on my last visit, for each labor union that contributed to Omaha's great history. Since I was on my morning walk in a city I knew nothing about, I had my iPod, not my camera with me. This time I'll take both and try to post some pictures of the great parks and public art the city offers.

The song that keeps running through my head while writing this? The Jefferson Starship: We Built This City (On Rock and Roll)

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    I await (none / 0) (#1)
    by phat on Fri Nov 17, 2006 at 03:03:09 AM EST
    hostile comments about Nebraska :-)


    The sculptor: (none / 0) (#2)
    by Pete Guither on Fri Nov 17, 2006 at 06:53:40 AM EST
    Matthew Placzek

    Nice piece (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Fri Nov 17, 2006 at 11:19:07 AM EST
    I like the small glimpse of the piece...it really tells the story of what made this country great....blood, sweat, and labor.

    It brings sadness to my heart to think of how our labor unions have been weakened, to think of how we manufacture so little compared to just 50-60 years ago, to think of the mantra "an honest days work for an honest wage" becoming obsolete, replaced by "an honest days work for as little compensation as we can get away with."

    An excerpt regarding the min. wage debate and social justice from this week's TMQ column by Gregg Easterbrook (the best football colmun on the internet with limited political content, imo)....I think it fits here.  Americans, judging by the state measures that passed so overwhelmingly, still believe in social justice, if only our leaders will listen.

    Social Justice Goes Six-for-Six: In the hoopla over last week's historic elections, it is important this detail not be missed: Six states held referenda on raising their minimum wage, and in all six the measures passed by big margins. Success margins ranged up to 76 percent yes in Missouri.

    The six-for-six success of higher minimum wage proposals tells us four things. First, Americans are a fundamentally generous people. The majority of voters who said yes to raising the minimum wage are above that wage themselves, and know higher minimums will result in higher prices for their goods and services. Second, concern with social justice is a rising trend among Christian voters. The 76 percent yes in Missouri is especially revealing because evangelical turnout was high in that state, owing to a referendum about embryonic stem cell research on the same ballot. Jesus taught that the first concern of social policy should be the needy, and in recent years, evangelical Christianity has been waking up to that teaching. (On that topic I recommend to readers the new book "Tempting Faith" by former George W. Bush aide David Kuo, an evangelical; also it's important that Rick Warren, America's most prominent Christian pastor, has recently been talking more about obligations to the needy than any other topic.) Third, the referenda results are another indicator of how far out of touch the House and Senate were, since in 2006 the Republican leadership in both chambers worked to sabotage a higher federal minimum wage. Finally and most importantly, the vote tells us the federal minimum wage must go up.

         If even Arnold agrees the minimum wage must rise, this issue will be back!Today the federal minimum is just $5.15 an hour. Some states have higher minimums -- that's what the votes were about -- but others do not, and in all states local actual wages tend to shadow the federal minimum, rising when the federal number rises. It is shocking, and an indictment of Washington, that today's federal minimum wage is barely worth half the minimum of the 1960s. Expressed in today's dollars, the minimum wage would need to be $10.20 an hour to have the same value as the federal minimum of 1968. Through the 1960s, full-time work at the federal minimum wage kept a family of three above the poverty trend; today a family of three headed by a full-time minimum wage worker is 24 percent below the poverty line. Yes, teenagers from affluent families working summer jobs don't need $10 an hour -- a teen-wage exception to the minimum seems fine. But our social contract should ensure that any adult who works full time receives basic financial security, and a $10-an-hour federal minimum wage would achieve that end. A $10 federal minimum wage would increase the cost of pizza delivery. It would also increase social justice: and all Americans ought to vote for that.

    red (none / 0) (#4)
    by eric on Fri Nov 17, 2006 at 01:48:07 PM EST
    I await
    hostile comments about Nebraska :-)

    No comments, just look at these numbers.  Ouch.


    WPA Bridge in Cleveland (none / 0) (#5)
    by Kitt on Sat Nov 18, 2006 at 06:28:25 PM EST
    This structure was just about my most favorite while in Cleveland. It's the Lorain-Carnegie bridge or Lorain-Carnegie Viaduct. It was renamed for Bob Hope; story is his father was a stonecutter for the quarry who did the pylons for the Hope Memorial bridge.