Critique on “An Hourly Worker’s Questions
for the President”
The 10 Essential Components of a Letter to the Editor were mostly all met and persuaded the reader in Joseph Henderson’s “An Hourly Worker’s Questions for the President.” Henderson replies to the article “Reviving the American Working Class” by The Editorial Board. Although, not all components are persuasive enough, most were convincing. Joseph Henderson begins with his letter by stating that he is a, “65-year-old hourly employee at a hotel in Durham, N.C.” (“An Hourly Worker’s “). Henderson is telling the reader that he is a man directly affected by how the government plans to improve pay and benefits for the positions taking factory workers’ jobs. He establishes his credibility and took time out of his day to explain how this is not good enough for the American people.
Henderson is directly responding to the article, “Reviving the American Working Class” which is stated before his first paragraph as “Re ‘Reviving the American Working Class‘ (editorial, Aug. 30):.” In his text, Henderson does not address The Editorial Board or refer to the article’s title or content specifically. He does tell the reader what he is referring to but not in his actual letter. He also speaks to the president only and does not mention the author. He would have been more convincing if he cited part of the original article.
Henderson objects to The Editorial Board’s statement of raising salaries for low paying jobs, providing paid leave, and securing benefits. Henderson states, “But that rosy portrait of job creation and increased wages is not borne out by the realities many of us live with. Certainly not in my hometown and certainly not among the millions of workers waiting for next week’s schedule to post.” He disagrees with increased wages and job creation because that would hurt his job and millions like him. This is very clear and persuasive.
Henderson establishes his credibility by stating, “Every week this pernicious labor practice is leveled at millions of America’s lowest-paid workers…because of a dehumanizing labor concept called ‘just in time scheduling.’” Henderson speaks from his own experiences and for workers just like him who wait for next week’s schedule to be posted. This is an impressive detail because millions of Americans are affected.
He also makes an argument by posing questions to the president. This is a good strategy because he conveys his point through rhetorical questions as if the president is receiving the letter. He asks where would the jobs created be found, will the pay increase be able to support a family, and will the jobs provide insurance. The argument is clear in his letter and persuasive.
Henderson does not use any statistical or factual information against raising the pay for low wage workers but he does mention how his job schedule works. I think he could use a compelling statement that supports his argument. This would make his letter more persuasive and engaging for the reader.
He does not have a big header line in his conclusion. He says that the job of the president is to “help the powerful, the haves and corporate America.” This is not a very strong ending in my opinion but it is still captivating. He could have mentioned the long term effects more clearly to really drive his letter home.
A Hopeful Proposal
Henderson’s Hopeful Proposal is his last line which is “and surely we as a people can do better than this.” He is reaching out to the nation and speaking as one entity which is more persuasive. He does not use a lot of information which I think he needs but speaks as a whole to the population.
The Rhetorical Flourish
Henderson looks at the larger picture and states when the, “president boastfully touts his record for job creation, I beg someone to ask him to be transparent on these few things.” He poses rhetorical questions to the president which implies that the president will think of job creation again and what he will do will not be good enough for the American people.
A Call to Action
His Call to Action is stating that if the president can not answer his rhetorical questions then he has not produced a road that helps the American people. This is a convincing statement because he has assumed that the president can not answer the questions and he wants to let him know what he thinks.
Exceptional work. Thorough and beautifully organized.
I like everything about your analysis, Smellycat, and especially the helpful way you divided your critique into easy-to-follow sections. If you’d like help on rhetoric, let me know. Here’s an example.
You confuse readers with your syntax in this sentence:
It’s impossible to know for sure what “The Editorial Board’s statement of raising salaries” means. You must mean something like “The Editorial Board stated THAT salaries for low-paying jobs are rising.” If so, the way to say that is:
This looks brilliant, SmellyCat, but you haven’t asked a specific Feedback question, so it will stay in the Feedback queue until you do.