Sunday, February 8, 2015

Only Fair - Act One

Young boy working at the docks by Lewis Hine, circa 1905 

A continuation of 'The only 'fair' is laissez-faire” politics of child labor, continued from here:

Family of workers outside a cotton mills, Mississippi, circa 1910

Argument against regulating child labor:
Capitalism is a venture of divine right and money nothing more than a reward of virtue. Conversely poverty is a result of a moral lacking. 

John D Rockefeller, annual publicized event, giving a poor child a coin 

“God gave me my money.” 

John D. Rockefeller (1839 to 1937, Founder Standard Oil, devout Baptist, developer of Vaseline, bankrupted railroad rival and Carnegie’s mentor with pipeline transportation and spent a considerable amount of time in later life on the run from Congressional Subpoena.)


J.P. Morgan (When asked by congressional committee how he came by his enormous empire.)

Swift's Bog, Falmouth, Massachusetts, 1911

1836 to 1842 Massachusetts is The Heaven for the Enlightened

Massachusetts decided Team Trickle Down needed a few game rules. Children under 15 were required to attend school (three months a year was determined to be adequate for learnin’) and for good measure, the little slackers couldn’t work more than 60 hours a week. Enforcement proved challenging. 

Alma Crosien, age 3
mother and daughter work in the Barataria Canning Company
"I'm learnin' her the trade." Recorded by Lewis Hine, 1911

Argument against regulating child labor:

Regulating child labor will mean an overall increase in cost of goods and a decrease in the standard of living for all of America.
(Children are paid less per hour and factories and mines are already structured for children. Adjusting for this will be financially prohibitive. )

Tifton Cotton Mill, Tifton, Georgia, 1909

“The glory of the nation you love is a desirable end, but generally to be obtained at your neighbor’s expense.” 
John Maynard Keynes

“The capitalist engine is first and last an engine of mass production, which unavoidably means also a production for the masses.”* 

Joseph Alois Schumpter (1883 to 1950, Economist, Political Scientist and professor at Harvard University.) 
Unless, of course, the masses are paid so little they can't afford to purchase what they produce. 

Young textile worker, Georgia, circa 1900

1886 Columbus Ohio and The Union of Big Boys 

45 years after the Massachusetts do-gooders noticed an issue, and a few child labor generations later, the American Federation of Labor was formed and suggested a minimum age of 14 for labor.

Suggested being the key word and I have no doubt that the Pennsylvania coal mine tycoons and Philadelphia steel tycoons took it under advisement. 

Young girl, age 3, Johnson Canning Camp, Seaford, Delaware, 1910

“I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.” *

Eugene V Debs  (1855 to 1926, Founder of the Industrial Workers of the World and five times candidate for President of the United States.) 
Um . . . me too and I would think so would that long-haired dude back around early B.C. Something doesn't seem to translate.

Furman Owens, age 12
"Yes I want to learn but can't when I work all the time" 
Olympia Mill, Columbia, South Carolina

1890 The Spirit of Self-Regulation

Several states passed laws limiting child labor. Awesome right? Not so much. The laws excluded immigrants (who do you think was working in the factories?) and enforcement wasn’t effective because . . . well golly, those nice employers and tax payers were going to have to pull up stakes and move to a state more understanding of the divine right to increase income. 

Harold and Jewel Walker age 5 and age 6,  
Each picks 20 to 25 pounds of cotton a day 
Comanche County, Oklahoma, 1916

Argument against regulating child labor:
Child labor allows America to remain a global leader. Without child labor, industrialists will be forced to move labor to other areas. States or even countries without such regulations would benefit while misguided areas of regulation would suffer. 

Boy, age 16, lost his leg and arm in an industrial accident
Spring Factory, 1908

“We are not in business for our health!” 

J.P. Morgan, when fellow parishioners in New York’s Trinity Church criticized him for investing church funds in lucrative East Side slum property. 

“The public be damned!” 

William Henry Vanderbilt (1821 to 1885, Cornelius’ son, quote in response to popular criticism of his creation of a private monopoly in New York street transit, his subsequent doubling of the fares and presumably before PR teams were active.) 

St Louis Missouri, 1910 
Newsboys taking a smoke break

1899 The Disney Plasticizing Machine 

Familiar with Disney’s musical Newsies? The plucky, cap-wearing, newspaper boys singing and dancing their way to fame and fortune? Well, it turns out that is NOT a documentary. Trust Disney to paint a happy smile on the horrible. 

Young Newsie, sleeping with his papers, 1912 

Newsboys bought bundles of 100 papers to peddle. Then toted the papers, fended off other newsboys and physically fought for prime corners. 

Know any 6 to 10 year old boys? Think they can survive fighting for a position on a Boston corner, in December, while wearing those stupid nickerbockers?) 

Young Newsie, Boston, circa 1910

“You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war.” 

William Randolph Hearst (1896 to 1951, Newspaper publisher of the nation’s largest newspaper chains, US Representative but NOT Mayor of New York City, Governor of New York or Lieutenant Governor of New York – as he had hoped to be, also took credit for starting the Spanish–American war through slanted journalism.)

 Freddie Kafer, at the entrance to the State Capitol, circa 1905

Want to know more? Of course you do because you are reading the pissed-off, pessimistic social worker blog . . . and it is a pretty great story.

Young Newsie, Philadelphia, circa 1908 

Familiar with “Yellow Journalism”? (Think any media outlet owned by Rupert Murdock.) 

Before Murdock (well, not too much before the 83-year-old Churnalism King), William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer capitalized on the Spanish-American War. They upped each other in sensationalized Yellow Journalism and sales exploded. 

The newsboys were charged an additional 10¢ a bundle. After the war, the two media moguls refused to return the bundle cost to 50¢. 

Newsie Siblings, New York City, circa 1910 

“Publicity, publicity, publicity is the greatest moral factor and force in our public life.“ * 

Joseph Pulitzer (1847 to 1911, Hungarian-American Newspaper publisher of the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the New Your World and US Congressman, best know for the Pulitzer Prizes established in 1917) 
*Understanding the principal, his papers did not cover the biggest News story involving his newspaper. He didn't get rich by being dumb. 

Newsgirls, circa 1912 

Around 5,000 newsboys organized a strike and they shut down the Brooklyn Bridge for two weeks. A partially blinded newsboy called Kid Blink (I did NOT make that up) became a very sympathetic figurehead. The boys also refused to beat up the girls that came in to sell papers and the American public rallied behind them. 

Newspaper sales dropped by two-thirds. The tycoons didn’t reduce the price but agreed to buy back papers that didn’t sell. Strike ended, child union disbanded and sales returned. 

Yep, that didn’t need any regulation. 

Side note:
Both organized crime and the fictional Sherlock Holmes used newsies as lookouts. 

Young mine worker, Pennsylvania 

Argument against regulating child labor:
There are classes and races of people who are lazy, immoral and unintelligent. Child labor prevents dangerous street gangs while teaching youngsters character and morality. 

Richmond Spinning Mills, Chattanooga, Tennessee 

“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”

Jay Gould (1836 to 1892, Investor and Financier, engaged in railroad stock manipulation costing Vanderbilt millions, sold his failing newspapers to Pulitzer and crashed the US gold market to make a profit.) 

“The disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition is the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our morals.”

Adam Smith (1723 to 1790, Scottish Philosopher and pioneer of political economy.)

One more side note: 
The concerns about gangs led to truancy officers and public support for the Boy Scouts. 

Young Shucker, age 6, Maggioni Canning, Port Royal, So Carolina, 1912

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