Nonpartisanship Springs From Labor’s Book List

Photograph by 20th Century Fox/Everett Collection

Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Only in Washington could Milton Friedman share props with the devil and Prada.

The capital is serving up a new crop of strange bedfellows courtesy of the Department of Labor and Library of Congress. As part of a campaign to celebrate its centennial, the Labor Department sought to list 100 books that have shaped the American workplace.  The agency solicited input from eight former secretaries including Elaine Chao and Robert Reich, department staff, and other notables.

Friedman, not surprisingly, made the list, thanks to Bill Brock, a onetime Republican senator and Labor secretary under President Ronald Reagan. So did “The Devil Wears Prada,” a fictional account of a harried Garment District intern.

Prada was suggested by — wait for it  – a Labor Department intern who called it the “quintessential boss-from-hell story.”

The selections might offer lessons to a city consumed with partisan rancor. Where else would Chao, wife of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, see eye-to-eye with Ray Marshall, Labor secretary to President Jimmy Carter?

Both recommended “Out of the Crisis” by management guru W. Edwards Deming. The book advocates cooperation between labor and management as a way to boost business and create jobs.


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