Child Labor

Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

These lyrics are part of a song written when we had the old liberals. The difference between the old and modern liberals is old liberals did manual work under inhuman conditions for meager pay. They knew about the class struggle first hand. The modern liberal is now ashamed of being called a liberal. They are now members of the shrinking middle class with a couple of cars, TV’s, credit cards and other luxuries taken for granted. Many are well educated and frequent places like Starbucks for expensive cups of fancy coffee drinks. They have forgotten how their life style was obtained and how easy it can dissipate.

15 Ton was not only a description of the plight of coal miners in Appalachia, but also a description of factory life for American labor from the end of the American Revolution until the late 1940s and reappearing today.

The Industrial Revolution emphasized the degradation of other humans to obtain wealth. The owners used child labor, inhumane working conditions for women in the garment industries and the same for men not owning land. Much of this is kept from us to keep us intimidated and submissive. (Nationalism)    

I would like to redefine my use of the word Disney Land History by including actions in American history omitted in most school classes, such as the unadorned truth about the plight of the disenfranchised groups in society.  

Two powerless groups, women and children were exploited by industry without regulations. As early as 1830 many states had enacted laws restricting or prohibiting the employment of children in industrial settings, but the laws were usually ignored. Entire families were hired, the men for heavy work and women and children for lighter work; similar to our farm workers today. In 1938, congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, better known as The Federal Wage and Hour law. This act was declared constitutional in 1941, but still ignored by many employers.

Captains of industry saw labor as a commodity, to be bought and sold according to market’s demand. We again have a larger supply than demand for labor, so they are powerless and at the employer’s mercy. The present unemployed have a long wait to experience the style of life they once had. The supply of cheap labor overseas makes the job creators oblivious to American needs.

Rabbi Stephen S. Wise’s quotes

 The lesson of the hour is that while property is good, life is better, that while possessions are valuable, life is priceless. The meaning of the hour is that the life of the lowliest worker in the nation is sacred and inviolable.”

On a more cheerful note, the lack of regulations, low taxes and small government was beneficial and still is to the Morgan, Rockefeller, Mellon and Vanderbilt families. Their dependents are still active in our economy today and will be delighted if we reinforce the policies being espoused by many of our tea drinking politicians today.  

 Carl Sandburg Poem:

 Among the mountains I wandered and saw blue haze and 

Red crag and was amazed;

On the beach where the long push under the endless tide

Maneuvers, I stood silent;

Under the stars on the prairie watching the Dipper slant

      Over the horizon’s grass, I was full of thoughts.

Great men. Pageants of war and labor, soldiers and workers,

       Mothers lifting their children—these all I

       Touched, and felt the solemn thrill of then.

And then one day I got a true look at the poor, millions

        Of the poor, patient and toiling; more patient than

        Craig’s, tides, stars, and stars; innumerable, patient as the

Darkness of night—and all broken, humble, ruins of nations.



2 responses to “Child Labor

  1. Sali Cosford Parker

    We are days away from the 10th anniversary of 9/11. For the past few weeks, America’s attention has been subtly directed back in history to that horrific, emotionally charged event – and away from the greed and faithlessness currently dismantling life as we know it. I object! The purpose of history is not to distract – it is to learn; to recognize patterns, events and behaviors we must avoid repeating.

    Yes! By all means remember 9/11! But Americans would do well to also remember the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire where 146 women lost their lives to greed. To remember the 362 men and boys killed in the 1906 Monongah Mining Disaster. To remember the 1889 Johnstown Flood where the nonchalance of the wealthy toward maintaining their summer playground resulted in 2,000 lost men, women and children, and $17,000,000 in property damage.

    Think Society won’t ever come to that again? In 2008, the solidly profitable American Axle & Manufacturing made history by demanding it’s work force take a permanent cut in pay. Not the CEO, CFO, COO or any other senior level manager. Not even middle management. The production and skilled trade workers took it on the chin, losing as much as 60 percent of their hourly wage. Lives weren’t lost, but livelihoods were. Similar events take place with conscienceless regularity in factories, mines, foundries, offices and school districts across America.

    I guess we don’t really need to look back; history is staring us in the face – child labor, unsafe working conditions, dawn to dark hours, subsistence wages, grinding poverty, illiteracy, epidemics. Question is, after remembering 9/11, will we do what’s necessary to avert terrorist threats as well as a return to the Victorian caste system?

  2. Vicki Sue McKinnis

    Dad, your article and Sali, your comment meet together with a most powerful message. Thanks so much. I agree with both of you, 100%. I hope the citizens of the USA will wake up.

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