Sunday, February 8, 2015

Only Fair – Grand Finale

Newsie, St Louis, Missouri, 1910

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

Ravel and Loopers, London Hosiery, London, Tennessee, 1910

Argument against regulating child labor: 
Child labor helps create the wealth accessed by philanthropists and only through cultured and selected endowments will the entire population be elevated.

Oyster Shucker, age 7, Port Royal, South Carolina 

“In alms giving, more injury may be done by promoting vice than by relieving virtue. Thus, is the problem of the rich and poor to be solved.” 
Andrew Carnegie

“You seem to be in prosperity. Could you lend an admirer a dollar and a half to buy a hymnbook with? God will bless you. P.S. Don't send the hymnbook, send the money. I want to make the selection myself.” 

Mark Twain in an open letter to Carnegie. Leave it to Twain to point out that Carnegie's belief in moral salvation flowing from God to Carnegie and then to the masses may have been a bit egotistical. 

Helen, age 5, hulling strawberries, 1910

1916 Shocking turn of events

Congress, moving at glacial speed, (remember the political and public issues have been bouncing around for over 80 years) nipped at their benefactors and prohibited interstate commerce of any child labor merchandise . . . 

Cotton Mill, Loudon, Tennessee, 1908 

until it was ruled unconstitutional . . . 

Go Supreme Court . . . 

Francis Lance, age 5, Grand Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri

while maintaining the constitutionality of prohibiting alcohol to cross state lines. 


Young cotton mill worker, circa 1905 

At least there were a few Supreme Court Justices who disagreed.  

“If there is any matter upon which civilized countries have agreed, it is the evil of premature and excessive child labor.” 

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841 to 1835, the oldest justice in Supreme Court history, retired at age 90)

Donald "Happy" Mallick, age 9
Newsie for 5 years, average earnings 35 cents a week

Well I would hope that would be agreed upon except it took the Great Depression in the 30’s before the Laissez-Faire became a little less Laissez.

Night shift at a glass factory, West Virginia, 1908

1933 The 30-Hour Work Week!

We almost had a 30-hour work week! Almost.
The captains of industry warned that they simply could not "provide jobs if we are to persist in loading upon it these everlastingly multiplying governmental mandates.” You know, like restricting 5 year olds from working 60 hours a week. 

 Oyster Shucker, age 10, Alabama Canning Co. 

The Senators had a few thoughts: 

Lobby money is not relevant if you can’t access it. 

If you don’t hold office you aren’t getting lobbied.

Enough voters are unemployed and angry enough they might actually vote. 


Someone had better do something or the politicians were all going home. 

(Exactly how bad does it have to get again before EVERYONE on Capital Hill starts looking for a new job?)

Donnie Cole, Cotton Mill Doffer, Birmingham, Alabama 

When asked his age, he hesitated "I’m 12." Lewis Hine

A bill putting limits on the Boys of Trickle Down sailed through the Senate. 

The legislative reasoning being, a 6-hour work week equals more job openings and ending child labor equals more employed voters. 

Fairly brilliant, for legislators anyway.

Cotton mill workers by Lewis Hine, circa 1900

“No society can surely be flourishing and happy of which by far the greater part of the numbers are poor and miserable.”Adam Smith

A group of young coal miners 

However, FDR cut support and bargained for a bigger economic reform package. The bill died in the House. 

Damn it!

Think the pink-o commie idea wouldn’t have worked? 
Several companies changed to a 30-hour week during The Depression. 

Kellogg's manufacturing plant, circa 1925
*They may not look happy . . . but they are!

Kellogg Cereal went to 30-hours a week and split the pay loss from the lower hours with the workers. The hourly productivity skyrocketed and Kellogg put the pay back to equal an 8-hour day while keeping the 6-hour work day.  

Oyster Shuckers, Maggioni Canning, Port Royal, South Carolina 

Amazing! An employer doing something innovative that actually benefitted the workers without a loss in productivity. 
That is a very dangerous standard to set. 

Just ask Mr. Morgan. 

Well Morgan’s son because Morgan had already been trust-busted and dead by then.

Kellogg slowly changed to the 40-hour week in the 50’s through the 80’s while they offered more expensive benefit packages. 

Good to know.

Laura, age 6, berry picker, Rock Creek, Maryland, 1909 

Argument against regulating child labor:
The public is not capable of really understanding capitalism, trade or the banking systems. Information and disclosure would only confuse them. 

Two Newsies, Richard and Richmond, age 5 and age 8
Richmond, Virginia, 1911 

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.

Henry Ford (1863 to 1947, American Industrialist, incorporated automobile assembly line production to manufacture and offer the first affordable “luxury” product. Followed by Hershey and Max Factor.) 

“The great body of people, mentally incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantage that capital derives from the system, will bear its burdens without complaint, and perhaps without even suspecting that the system is inimical to their interests.” 

The Rothschild brothers of London writing to associates in New York, 1863.

Chicken Venders, 6th St Market, Cincinnati, Ohio

1938 A Whole Two Bits an Hour  

Congress did the right thing, well the popular thing anyway. 

I’m aware that depending on your side of the aisle and level of rabid extremism, you might define this as Congress does the Laissez-Faire ending, industry ruining and patriotic interfering thing.

Fair Labor Standards limited work hours, established minimum wage, guaranteed overtime AND regulated child labor. 

The selfish bastards! Taking food out of the mouths of the poor industrialists.

Maud and Grade Daly, age 5 and age 3
Peerless Oyster Co. Bay, St. Louis, Mississippi, 1911

Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, tell you that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry.” 

President Franklin D Roosevelt (1882 to 1945, 32nd president of the US, implementer of the New Deal and Social Security)

“Photography can light-up darkness and expose ignorance.” 

Lewis Hine 

“The dictum, then, of the social worker is ‘Let there be light;’ and in this campaign for light we have for our advance agent the light writer—the photograph.” 
Lewis Hine

“The value of the photographic appeal can find its real fruition bet if it helps the workers to realize that they themselves can use it as a lever.” 
Lewis Hine

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