Readers Write: Labor unions deserve our thanks; Alcohol is deadliest drug

Letters to the Editor for the October 1, 2012 weekly print issue: Only 12 percent of workers are in unions now, but we should remember how unions have improved our lives and thank the many laborers around us today. In driving accidents, alcohol – not marijuana – is the deadliest drug.

Appreciating labor – then and now

Congratulations on the benchmark Sept. 3 issue with "The silver-collar economy" cover story. Starting with John Yemma's Upfront column, "Working to make a difference," this issue looked at labor issues across South Africa, Europe, and Saudi Arabia, and the In Pictures feature, "A world of work," was beautiful. Ending with Danny Heitman's commentary, "When the office is like a second home," and the "Fall books preview," this issue got me to remembering, too.

Growing up in the 1950s, there was a strong appreciation of "labor," which was mostly recognized at that time as having a union label. Almost 35 percent of American workers belonged to unions, and Labor Day was a big deal. That celebratory day was right up there with Armistice Day (now called Veterans Day) as a time when hundreds of thousands of people we didn't know by name were in our hearts for having built and protected America so that we all could grow up, have families, and grow old with dignity.

Labor and unions are no longer synonymous now that less than 12 percent of workers are in unions. But we should remember just how much the last century's union activities have improved our lives. Acceptable working conditions, decent pay, and benefits are a few examples. Labor is still all around us. We ought to make a point to express our thanks to all the people we see contributing their time and energy every day, unionized or not.

David K. McClurkin

 Beachwood, Ohio

Alcohol is a more deadly drug than pot

In the One Minute Debate in the Sept. 10 commentary section, "Voter choice: Should states legalize marijuana?," David Evans argues the "No" case. He states that "Marijuana is the most prevalent drug found in drivers killed in crashes." Mr. Evans's statement should really read: "Marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug...."

Though most policymakers don't consider alcohol to be a drug, alcohol is involved in around 31 percent of all US traffic fatalities, while only about 4 to 14 percent of drivers who were injured or died in traffic accidents tested positive for marijuana.

Randall Baker

Roseville, Calif.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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