“I don’t know why the President needs it,” said the head of the Department of Labor. “All I know is that he needs it by Monday!” And that was part of the problem; this was Friday afternoon. Not that the Labor Department was all that unwilling to work over the weekend, but why in the world did the White House wait until Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. before making the request?
You know how we Americans hate to give up our weekends. But it sure appeared that most of the people in the Department of Labor were about to give up theirs. The request had come directly from the White House and it came with a deadline. We have to have this information no later than Sunday at 6 p.m., the official request said. All the department could figure is that it must be for some high level meeting on Monday morning, and the President and White House staffers would need time to read and assimilate the information before Monday’s meeting.
But if their leader needed this information for some big political or international conference, the Department of Labor was going to do its darnedest to get it out. They were going to have to put some brainwork into this one. It involved economic figures and stats from as far back as the industrial revolution in this country. The Department dug in. They worked late into Friday night, sending out for food and making the requests of both their powerful computers and their talented library staff.
On into Saturday it went, with the figures being correlated and compiled. More than 60 years of data being brought together in one large report that would clearly reflect the beginning stats of the Revolution, continuing on with the progress made in the 20s, the 30s, through the war years of the 40s, and the fantastic economic boom and recovery of the 50s. It even had all the available statistics of the socially turbulent 60s. The facts and figures were there.
At the appointed time on Sunday afternoon, nearly two hours before the deadline, a truck pulled up at the White House with a full 6,000-page report aboard. The department was mighty proud of this report. And they should have been. After all, it was estimated that it cost the American taxpayers approximately $325,000 for them to prepare it over a weekend that way. And I don’t think that counted the actual cost of the paper that was used to print it either!
But there it was, all 6,000 pages of it, complete with several smiling Labor Department staffers who wanted to be sure the project was delivered on time and in person. You might imagine their surprise when they were told what the research was actually for.
It’s a Little Known Fact that one of the most embarrassing moments for First Lady Rosalyn Carter was being called down to pick up the report that she had ordered! Yeah, Rosalyn - not the President. And what did the First Lady need with a 6,000-page $325,000 report of statistics and progress of economic America from the Industrial Revolution to present? Well, it seems that the First Lady was helping first daughter Amy Carter with her homework. And Rosalyn thought that a little info from the Department of Labor would help. And she sure got it! Did it help? We’re not sure. Amy got a “C” on her report. We wonder what the Department of Labor got?