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Thank God for the Liberal Democrats,
who finally brought an end to the terrible conditions
that had prevailed under both
Republican and Democratic Conservatives !


This particular web page consists almost entirely of excerpts from The Good Old Days – They Were Terrible !, a wonderful little book that ought to be required reading for all Americans. It was published by Random House in 1974 and authored by Otto Bettmann, the founder of the famed Bettmann Archives in New York, one of the world's great picture libraries. This library has accumulated some three million prints and photographs, which are used all over the world by publishers, educators, etc.
        Bettmann created this little book to counter the impression created by so many romanticized images of the past, including many in his own collection, to show how contrary to reality that impression is and how grateful we should be not to be living in that past.
        I am publishing the excerpts below in order to encourage my readers to get their own copy of the book in order to better inform themselves and their children about the past, so as to make a better future for us all.
        This book shows in both text and pictures how much better our world is thanks to the work of the many great Liberals who have gone before us, and shows how much better the world will continue to become if Liberals continue their fight to prevent the rich and the powerful from taking advantage of the poor and the weak!

There is a very similar book about New York city by Jacob Riis, first published in 1890. How the Other Half Lives was republished as a paperback with more photos and graphics in 1971

CHILD LABOR : "We take them as soon as they can stand up."

"Not only did they take them, as the Southern manager said in reference to children working in his factory, but running machines late at night they were sometimes kept awake 'by the vigilant superintendent with cold water dashed into their faces.'   'Late' meant two o'clock in the morning in upstate New York, where 'mere babies' were found employed in a cannery. In their utter weariness after work, these children often forgot their hunger and fell asleep with food in their mouths.
        Child labor was not just a sporadic manifestation of Victorian cold-bloodedness, it was a widespread practice encouraged by industry, agreed to by parents, and generally ignored by government. For employers the tiny workers were a bargain at $1.50 to $2.50 a week, and, besides, they claimed that factory work was good for the little devils; the Puritan Work Ethic prevailed against the 'sloth of children, their idleness by which they are corrupted."
        Less culpable perhaps were the poor parents, who were seduced into giving their assent at the prospect of reducing their struggle even by so small a margin. And many children appeased their parents' conscience by fancying factory over school, which by law they had to attend fourteen weeks a year to become eligible for work. Sometimes child laborers – and their parents – would lie about their age to obtain employment. In fact, children in Syracuse, New York, in 1904 were heard to complain, 'The factories will not take you unless you are eight years old.'
        Whatever the circumstances, the little workers got no special favors. Their hours were as long and their conditions as grim as those of an adult. Some textile mill boys were so small they had to be raised on boxes to service the twirling spindles, their hands in constant danger of being caught. Young mine workers, exposed to poisonous dust and injury, earned 25 cents for a 12 to 14-hour day.
        There were opponents of child labor, among them charitable institutions, but they proved powerless. A law had been passed as early as 1842 by Massachusetts – always a leader in humanitarian causes – that confined the workday of children under age twelve to ten hours. But this state and others with similar statutes lacked the means to enforce them.
        With an estimated 6 percent of its child population engaged in factory work in the 1880's, New York State had only two industrial inspectors. Under such sparse surveillance, the 'importing' of child labor went on freely. Children were transported from Tennessee, where a prohibitive law was in force, to South Carolina, where none existed. 'Little children from seven to fourteen years of age [were] shipped like cattle or hogs.'
        An 1870 census put the total of child workers at 700,000, but this did not include the thousands who worked city streets as vendors, messengers and shoeshine boys. Child labor actually grew threefold in the South in the decade from 1890, increasing the national figure in 1900 to 1,752, 187.

FreeMarket4Kids-Lost fingers

One third of all mill employees were children. They also worked in tobacco fields, canneries and mines; in meat packing, hosiery, silk, wool, hemp and jute mills. Finally, in 1904, the National Child Labor Committee was formed and began its vigorous campaign to protect the coming generation." pp. 76-79

SLUM CHILDREN : "Their home is the street."

In 1874 a New York social worker, Etta Angel Wheeler found a little girl wandering naked through the slums. The child had been beaten and slashed by her drunken foster mother and then chased from home. Unable to find a haven for her, Miss Wheeler asked the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for help;

Kids for School
it was decided that "the child being an animal" the Society would give it protection. An animal – the end product of slum life. Disfigured by the bestiality of home, thousands of urchins wandered the streets – an 1880 estimate had 100,000 loose in New York – cunning, predatory, with an instinct for survival that rivaled an alley cat's. They slept under doorways, in discarded boxes and barrels; they fought, blasphemed, begged and stole; and in the end they gravitated to prostitution and crime. It was the natural succession of their unnatural orbit." p. 44


"History offers a yardstick by which to measure the status of the American worker. Today he has dignity and protection; less than a hundred years ago he was poor, debased and unprotected. Industrialists of the period regarded labor as a commodity – a raw material like ore or lumber to be mined of its vitality and flushed away. Profits were enormous against meager wages – 'Never before have the rich been so rich and the poor been so poor' – an imbalance that helped one percent of the population by 1890 to own as much as the remaining ninety-nine percent put together.
        Marshall Field's income was calculated to be $600 an hour, while his shopgirls, at a salary of $3 to $5 a week, had to work over three years to earn that amount.
        Virtually unopposed by any organized front – by 1900 only 3.5 percent of the work force was unionized – employers hired and fired at will. A New England shoe manufacturer sacked outright all of his workers and replaced them with Chinese laborers he brought from the West Coast who were willing to work for $26 a month.

Various atrocious jobs

Various atrocious jobs

To survive in the absence of social benefits, workers endured wretched conditions. The huge labor pool, augmented by a massive influx of foreigners, created a rivalry for even the most repugnant jobs. And if labor unrest caused an occasional stir, industrialist Jay Gould was confident he had the solution for it: 'I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.'
        'The laboring man in this bounteous and hospitable country has no ground for complaint.'
        It is apparent from this statement that Chauncey Depew never put in a 12-hour shift on the floor of a steel mill. Unless, of course, he enjoyed working in 117-degree heat in a smoky, clangorous bedlam for a maximum of $1.25 a day, or perhaps he was attracted by the laborers' hovels and their 7 day workweek.
        Conditions that were attended by constant danger, that had destroyed the health of thousands by age forty, were inspired less by malice than by the entrepreneurs' holy pledge to keep the cost of labor down – at any cost – which meant to keep the people down. Coal mines and iron and steel mills, the primordial industries, were especially brutal on their manpower because of the constant pressure exerted on them by every other industry.
        In the mills two shifts worked round the clock at a demonic page, which faltered only at shift changeover. Shorter work periods, with their added pauses in production, were never considered. The economist J. G. Brooks quotes a mill foreman who admitted that the machines were deliberately set at the utmost speed a human could endure: 'It is a pity that men have to work like this, but there is no help for it. The machinery drives us at a gallop.'
        Exposure to the infernal heat and poisonous gases endemic to their work shattered many steelworkers' physique prematurely. Of these individuals, the unlucky ones were sacked; and the lucky ones were demoted, with a concomitant wage reduction from $1.25 to $1 or less a day. Aged workers were given jobs as sweepers or submenials, preferring to labor 12 hours for 75 cents than face a pensionless retirement.
        Steel mills had no monopoly on serious health hazards. There was the sawdust of factories, the stone dust of quarries, the toxic emanations in chemical plants, and the goal dust in the mines. The miner, it was said, 'went down to work as to an open grave, not knowing when it might close on him.' Usually the son followed the father, starting as a breaker boy at age six, and often entering manhood stunted from the effects of early employment." p. 67

STANDARD OF LIVING : "Steady work? Nothing steady but want and misery."

"To most workers, the miseries of employment were more acceptable than the alternative: unemployment. Layoff – a constant threat – meant ruin, and the bands of tramps that menaced the countryside during the depression of the 1870's included decent men who were merely jobless and in despair. The crisis year of 1877 saw an estimated two and a quarter to three million men unemployed. In the depression of 1893 – 98 the total was four million – almost one out of every five workers. In the absence of benefits or relief of any kind, many families had to sleep in police stations.
Employers' view of workers        Ruin followed loss of work because what came in on Friday was gone by Thursday. And contrary to popular belief, $2 a day in the 1870's was not a lot of money. Except for New Yorkers, rents were lower, taking only 10 to 15 percent of an average wage (for dismal accommodations), and certain foods could be bought reasonably. But statistics show that food absorbed 50 percent of low incomes.
        In 1882 a Boston bookmaker with a family of five and $660 yearly income spent $120 on rent, $319.29 on groceries. Measured against $2 a day, an acceptable wage, the average prices per pound – butter, 19 cents; bacon, 10 cents; fowl, 10 – 15 cents; and eggs, 15 cents a dozen – were quite high. Many families had only $1 a day to spend – a desperate hardship. "They often live on bread alone and have no meat for weeks."
        Through a larcenous scheme, workers were forced to pay higher food prices in company towns. Wages were mostly in scrip, redeemable only in company stores that charged inflated prices. In the coal regions of Pennsylvania a barrel of flour that cost $6.50 in a "cash" store was $8.50 at the company store; butter at 19 cents was 25 cents in scrip, and so on. Workers who protested this extortion were not only sacked but evicted from their homes, which the company also owned. The refusal to accept wage cuts led to lockouts, lifted only after the workers pledged not to join a union." p. 80

LABOR ACCIDENTS: "If you accept a job, you must accept its risk."

The headlong excesses of domestic industry were reflected in an accident rate that moved President Harrison in 1892 to observe: 'American workmen are subjected to peril of life and limb as great as a soldier in time of war.' In his classic book on poverty, Robert Hunter put the yearly total of killed and injured at one million, a higher number in proportion to the labor force than in any other nation
Brakeman         Aside from the steel mills the railroad industry was the most lethal to its workers, killing in 1890 one railroader for every 306 employed and injuring one for every 30 employed. Out of a work force of 749,301 this amounted to a yearly total of 2451 deaths, which rose in 1900 to 2675 killed and 41,142 injured. It should be noted that these casualty lists cover only railroaders in the line of duty: civilian casualties in train collisions and level-crossing accidents were another matter. The New York Evening Post concluded that the deaths caused by American railroads between June 1898 and 1900 were about equal to British Army losses in the three-year Boer War.
        In the high-risk job category the circus stuntman and test pilot today enjoy greater life assurance than did the brakeman of yesterday, whose work called for precarious leaps between bucking freight cars at the command of the locomotive's whistle. In icy weather, it often became a macabre dance of death. legless laborerAlso subject to sudden death – albeit to a lesser degree – were the train couplers, whose omnipresent hazard was loss of hands and fingers in the primitive link-and-pin devices. It took an act of law in 1893 to force the railroads to replace these man-traps.
        Industry's cavalier attitude to safety had a predictable effect on lower-echelon bosses. One railroad-yard superintendent refused to roof a loading platform, even though in the cold his men had contracted rheumatism and asthma. His observation: 'Men are cheaper than shingles.... There's a dozen waiting when one drops out.' "
        "Whether a worker was mutilated by a buzz saw, crushed by a beam, interred in a mine, or fell down a shaft, it was always 'his own bad luck.' The courts as a rule sided with the employer; in any event, few accident victims or their kin had the money to bring suit. Companies disclaimed responsibility, refused to install protective apparatus, and paid no compensation. Their only concession to human life was to pay for burying the dead!" pp. 70-71
        When the drivers of horse-drawn streetcars demanded that their 16 hour workday, for which they were paid $2, be reduced to 12 hours, then young conservative Republican New York State Assemblyman Theodore Roosevelt branded their demands "communistic". ( from p. 21)

SWEATSHOPS :  "A slavery as real as ever disgraced the South."

"There was one industry in the Gilded Age where sudden death and maiming were not occupatioional hazards, but where, instead of this luxury, the alternatives exhaustion or starvation were offered. This was the garment industry, and at its heart was the sweatshop. Manned largely by newly arrived immigrants who had landed with high hopes and little cash, the sweatshop ran from factory-size halls, where men and women slaved under regimental supervision, to the informality of a squalid room with an entire family engaged in piecework. The sweatshop operator, called "sweater," shrewdly exploited the need for work and shelter by offering newcomers a package deal against ( in exchange for) an initial "key payment" of $5, he stuffed them into a slum and subcontracted work to them for a pittance.
        In New York's Lower East Side – the center of the industry – it was commonplace to find whole families working through the night merely to subsist. With rents $8 to $12 a month and living costs per individual a minimum of $5 a month, a garment worker could not support a family solely on his own pay. Consequently his wife – and children – were sucked into the grim of working and sleeping.
        At the risk of his health a man could make $9 to $10 a week for pressing and delivering new garments to the wholesaler; a woman, $7, for the punishing job of seaming three dozen shirts. The standard wage for a girl was $3 to $5, which, according to the head of the Women's Protective Union, Mrs. M. W. Ferrer, yielded her no more than a loaf of bread, a cup of tea, and a bed in a tenement attic. When asked how the sweatshop girls could live, she said, "They can't."

Sewing room in department store of A. T. Stewart, who was said to be 'as tender to his employees as a fireman is to his truck'. Although criticized for regarding his workers as mere 'cogs in the machinery of his establishment,' Stewart was more widely acclaimed as a man of impeccable honesty whose sewing room was a model of decent employment practices.
Sweatshop-savedByLiberals04        To reach their quota, girls had to put in an 84-hour week at a wage averaging 5 cents an hour. Fines were imposed for talking, smiling, breaking a needle. To reach their quota, girls had to put in an 84-hour week at a wage averaging 5 cents an hour. If tobacco stripping was the nadir of sweatshop employment, then the sewing room of A. T. Stewart, New York's greatest retailer of the 1870's, was perhaps its zenith. Here was to be found a thin layer of civility, and air that was relatively clean. But Stewart ran his two thousand workers with an iron hand, assessing fines against latecomers and those who misdirected bundles. Hours were from 7:30 A.M. to 9 P.M., and sewing girls received $3 a week – a notoriously low salary even then.
        Bathroom facilities were inadequate – perhaps deliberately so, in order to keep the needles humming and this proved a menace to the health of young girls who endured discomfort when men were around rather than run the gauntlet in humiliation."
        The cities of the Gilded Age had an excess of these plants, and twelve hours a day in their toxic atmosphere left their mark on workers for life. But nothing compared with the hazards and indignities of the tobacco "in home" factories. Here, for a meager income, women and children were forced to endure the most sickening exhalations as they stripped the leaves. Harper's Magazine described the effects of endless hours of this work: "Their eyes are dead, a stupor overcomes them, their nerves are unsettled and their lungs diseased in almost every case." pp. 72-75

STRIKES :  "We struck ... because we were without hope."

To most people of the upper classes, crowds of angry men in shabby clothes – no matter what their cause – were always wrong. No matter that they were workers driven to the wall by the practices of their employers. No matter that their families were hungry. No matter that they were infuriated by wage reductions while profits were rising.
        In the face of such total blindness to legitimate grievances, violence was inevitable. Between 1881 and 1900 American labor staged 2378 strikes involving more than six million workers. With few exceptions, such as the railroad walkout against Jay Gould in 1888, these strikes proved calamitous to the workers' cause. The powerful industrialists, taking refuge in the respectable sanctuary of 'law and order,' controlled public opinion and slandered the labor movement as a seditious form of conspiracy. Strikes were blamed on 'blatant anarchists,' 'socialists,' or 'hordes of untrained immigrants yet unfamiliar with the institutions of the Republic.'
        No doubt there were some ruthless agitators within the rank and file, not to speak of roughnecks who welcomed mob rule, but labor hardly needed such incitement. It was already charged to the brim by abuses and economic hardship, and it struck only as a last resort. For instance, the great railroad strike of 1877 was called to protest a 10 percent cut in wages. Regrettable brutalities occurred along the line, but the men could hardly be blamed for resisting the plunder of their starvation pay. Militia bayonets forced the workers to give in.
War against Labor         The Pullman strike had a similar origin and outcome. Pullman, who ran his company towns with the authority of a medieval lord, had instituted five reductions in wages between May and December 1893, the last one amounting to almost 30 percent – all this notwithstanding the fact that the company had about $25 million in its coffers, with a distribution of $2.5 million in dividends for 1891.
        The Homestead steel strike of 1892 was generated by Henry Clay Frick himself with the admitted intention of breaking the union he hated. More than twenty died in the subsequent uprising, which was crushed by five thousand militiamen and led to the dismissal of three thousand workers. These strikes, an observer noted, achieved 'nothing but heightened police power – and the erection of great armories across the land' to have troops ready should 'anarchists' dare to interfere with the orderly conduct of business. "{pp. 82-83}

The attitude of the authorities toward strikers, in fact toward any manifestation of mass disgruntlement, was exclusively punitive, and the public at large agreed with this approach. Henry Ward Beecher, gentle, unctuous brother of Harriet, who had held many antislavery meetings in his church, said of strikers: 'If the club of the policeman, knocking out the brains of the rioter, will answer, then well and good; but if it does not promptly meet the exigency, then bullets and bayonets, canister and grape ... constitute the one remedy. . . Napoleon was right when he said the way to deal with a mob is to exterminate it.'

Buildings for the less affluent were flimsily built,
and lacking insulation, became fire traps.

"The need for the apartment house existed for many years before its evolution. The boarding house and tenement were too little; the townhouse, too much. The intense frustration of city life literally forced the development of the apartment building, which was to convert millions of Americans into 'cliff dwellers.'
        a firetrap-savedByLiberals12The flight from private dwellings began with the well-to-do, whose townhouses had become a financial burden. Richard M. Hunt created the prototype of a new style of housing in his Stuyvesant Apartments on 18th Street in New York. Contrary to dire predictions that New Yorkers would never consent to live 'on mere shelves under a common roof,' this building and similar ones that followed it proved very successful. Class privilege was safeguarded by rents up to $3000 for seven rooms.
        Reassured by the acceptance of communal living by the wealthy, real estate entrepreneurs built lower-rent apartment houses for the middle class. But these structures, which soon mushroomed in American cities, were little more than glorified tenements; and the style of living that was a pleasure for the rich became, in imitation, a curse to the wage earner. As a contemporary observed, 'Reasonable apartments are not good, and good apartments are not reasonable.'
Higher buildings were made possible by installation of elevators. Passengers feared that cable might snap and send them crashing to death
        Families were shelved in layers, sharing floors that were subdivided into several apartments – three or four tiny rooms providing no insulation from the neighbors' cooking smells or babies' squallings. Garbage removal and sanitary facilities were comparably wretched, and overcrowding made the buildings 'more difficult to manage than the tenement houses of the slum districts.'
        Fires threatened their residents. As the size and number of apartment buildings increased, so too did the danger that a fire would turn them into blazing prisons. Of course, they were not the only firetraps, but they accounted for the heaviest loss of life in the great conflagrations of the period. Between 1870 and 1906 four American cities – Chicago, Boston, Baltimore and San Francisco – burned to the ground, a record unmatched anywhere else in the world. Boston's assessment of its yearly fire damage – $1 to $1.5 million – was ten times greater than that of a European city of comparable size.
        The frequency and destructiveness of fires in American cities were blamed on shoddy construction and the use of flammable materials in the construction of 'fireproof' apartments. Even as late as 1904, after steel had replaced the less heat-resistant cast iron for building, 7000 lives were lost in city fires.
        Nowhere is the fireman more celebrated than in the United States. And for sound, historical reasons. p. 39

THE SLUMS : "Uninhabitable pens crowded to suffocation."

"A hundred years after the Founding Fathers had dedicated themselves to forming a new nation based on man's innate dignity, millions of its citizens wallowed in degradation. These were the slum dwellers: the losers in the system that exalted the individual. They came by the slums through a quirk of fate, and once in them they fell victim to plagues of body and mind that produced crime, drunkenness, disease and early death in a remorseless cycle.

Slum Housing-SavedByLiberals

a cross section of a New York tenement house, its inhabitants beset by grinding poverty, filth and disease, 'drunk, bestial, vile ... steadily sinking. In these dungeons, parents were demoralized and children became depraved.
     'Fever has taken a perennial lease and will obey no summons to leave.'

The authors of the Constitution could not have foreseen this blight on their earnest hopes. The slums, curiously, were a natural result of the optimism that marked the good old days, the rampant growth of industry and population that turned towns into cities and adventurers into exploiters with bewildering speed. As always, the devil had to have his due, and he was paid in slums
        Cleveland's infected area was known as the Flats; in St. Louis it was Cross Keys and Clabber Alley; in Boston, the North End. Chicago's extensive slums adjoined the stockyards, street after street of pitiful wreckage lacking sanitation, drainage, ventilation, light and safety. But worst of all, typically, was New York
        Between 1868 and 1875 an estimated 500,000 lived in New York's slums – about half the city's population. As many as eight persons shared a living room that was 10 by 12 feet and a bedroom 6 by 8 feet. One tenement on the Lower East Side was packed with 101 adults and 91 children.
        Among the indignities they were forced to suffer – all noted by city health inspectors – were vile privies; dirt-filled sinks; slop oozing down stairwells; children urinating on the walls; dangerously dilapidated stairs; plumbing pipes pockmarked with holes that emitted sewer gases so virulent they were flammable.
        Even among slum residents there was a ghastly hierarchy, at the bottom of which were the cellar dwellers. Their quarters acted as a repository for street filth that washed down on rainy days, caking a floor that men, women and children often shared with goats and pigs. 'The inmates exhibited the same lethargic habits as animals burrowing in the ground.'
        An absorbing footnote is the fact that the rent per square foot of the slums of the period was 25 to 35 percent higher than that of apartments in fashionable uptown New York. The slumlords, unable to resist profits of 50 to 70 percent on their original investment, squeezed tenants mercilessly. Politicians, exclusive club members and even churches were among the owners, who no doubt rationalized their greed as the mine operators did for their workers' shacks.'
        "The most astounding feature of this land of plenty is the absolute indifference of the rich toward the poor." p.43


This cow needs help

" It was common knowledge to New Yorkers that their milk was diluted. And the dealers were neither subtle nor timid about it; alI they required was a water pump to boost two quarts of milk to a gallon. Nor was that the end of the mischief: to improve the color of milk from diseased cattle they frequently added molasses, chalk or plaster of Paris.
        No wonder, that in 1889 New York's public health commissioner reported seeing in certain districts a 'decidedly suspicious looking fluid bearing the name of milk.' Bacteria-infected milk held lethal possibilities of which people were unaware. The root of this problem was in the dairy farms, invariably dirty, where the milch cows were improperly fed and housed. It was not unusual for a city administration to sell its garbage to a farmer, who promptly fed it to his cows. Or for a distillery to keep cows and feed them distillery wastes, producing what was called 'swill milk.' This particular liquid, which purportedly made babies tipsy, caused a scandal in the New York of 1870 when it was revealed that some of the cows cooped up for years in filthy stables were so enfeebled from tuberculosis that they had to be raised on cranes to remain 'milkable' until they died.
        When in 1902 the city's Health Commission tested 3970 milk samples it was found that over 50% were adulterated." pp 114-115

Change didn't come easy !

Although the founders of the Republican Party may have been somewhat liberal, both major American parties were controlled by conservatives from the end of the Civil War through the Great Depression and the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932.
        The United States didn't take the welfare of "the little guy (and gal) in America seriously until it's European parent countries had shown the way. Paul Klugman has gathered some great historical material on this question in his Conscience of a Liberal. He points out, for example, that as early as 1881, Bismark led the novel idea of the government caring about the well-being of the least of its citizens, when he said that it "should cultivate the view also among the propertyless and the least educated, that the state is not only an institution of necessity but also one of welfare. By recognizable and direct advantages they must be led to look upon the state not as an agency devised solely for the protection of the better-situated classes of society but also as one serving their needs and interests as well."
        " With Bismark's Germany leading the way, Europeans had begun to develop New Deal-like policies well before the U.S. political system was prepared to contemplate anything of the sort. In particular, Britain introduced a limited old-age insurance system in 1911. Before World War I, Britain, Germany , and France - which developed its own distinctive early welfare state - were spending more on social programs, as a share of GDP, than the U.S. would until the late 1930's."
        Conservatives did everything they could to prevent progress every step of the way.

The Role of the Liberal Churches :

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Christian churches in the U.S.A. tended to be on the side of the downtrodden, rather than "the establishment", as is evident in the "Social Creed" below, which the Federal Council of Churches drew up and proclaimed when it was created in 1908, much like the Constitution of the U.S.A. The Council then embraced 33 denominations, but was soon expanded into the National Council of Churches embracing many more denominations.

The Federal Council of Churches
The "Social Creed" of 1908

        We deem it the duty of all Christian people to concern themselves directly with certain practical industrial problems. To us it seems that the churches must stand

  • For equal rights and complete justice for all men in all stations of life.
  • For the right of all men to the opportunity for self-maintenance, a right ever to be wisely and strongly safeguarded against encroachments of every kind.
  • For the right of workers to some protection against the hardships often resulting from the swift crises of industrial change.
  • For the principle of conciliation and arbitration in industrial dissensions.
  • For the protection of the worker from dangerous machinery, occupational disease, injuries and mortality.
  • For the abolition of child labor.
  • For such regulation of the conditions of toil for women as shall safeguard the physical and moral health of the community.
  • For the suppression of the "sweating system."
  • For the gradual and reasonable reduction of the hours of labor to the lowest practicable point, and for that degree of leisure for all which is a condition of the highest human life.
  • For a release from employment one day in seven.
  • For a living wage as a minimum in every industry, and for the highest wage that each industry can afford.
  • For the most equitable division of the products of industry that can ultimately be devised.
  • For suitable provision for the old age of the workers and for those incapacitated by injury.
  • For the abatement of poverty.

To the toilers of America and to those who by organized effort are seeking to lift the crushing burdens of the poor, and to reduce the hardships and uphold the dignity of labor, this Council sends the greeting of human brotherhood and the pledge of sympathy and of help in a cause which belongs to all who follow Christ.

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"Regulations", the greatest of all evils ?

To hear conservatives tell it, it's hard to imagine a greater evil than government regulations. But regulations are a lot like brakes on a car. Ask most people why cars have brakes and they'll answer, "to enable cars to stop." But cars don't need brakes to stop. The natural condition of cars - when there is no outside agent acting on them - is the stopped or "parked" condition. Brakes were invented to enable cars to move; and the better the brakes that could be invented, the faster cars have been able to go.
        The same is true of so many other things in life. Take trains, for example. Some might view tracks as very limiting. Trains aren't "free" to go wherever they might like. But rather than go slow and get bogged down going here, there and everywhere, they carry huge amounts of goods efficiently to some well-planned and very useful destinations.
        And it's pretty much the same with business and government. It takes good regulations and plenty of them to enable them to achieve great things. Politicians and businessmen who rant against regulations as such - as opposed to unwise regulations - aren't fit to be anything but conservative demagogues.

A Day in the Life of Joe Average Conservative :

    "Joe gets up at 6:00 am to prepare his morning coffee.  He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards.  He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee.  His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure they are safe and work as advertised.
    All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employers medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance, now Joe gets it too.  He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs this day.  Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.
    Joe takes his morning shower reaching for his shampoo; His bottle is properly labeled with every ingredient and the amount of its contents because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.  Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath.  The air he breathes is clean because some tree hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.
    Joe walks to the subway station for his government subsidized ride to work; it saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees.  You see, some liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.
    Joe begins his work day; he has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation days because some liberal union members fought and died for these working standards.  Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union.  If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some liberal didn't think he should loose his home because of his temporary misfortune.
    It's noon time, Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills.  Joe's deposits are federally insured by the FSLIC because some liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Depression.
    Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten mortgage and his below market federal student loan because some stupid liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his life-time.
    Joe is home from work, he plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country.  He gets in his car for the drive to dads; his car is among the safest in the world because some liberal fought for car safety standards.
    Joe arrives at his boyhood home.  He was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans.  The house didn't have electric until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.  (Those rural Republican's would still be sitting in the dark).
    Joe is happy to see his dad who is now retired.  His dad lives on Social Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.  After his visit with dad he gets back in his car for the ride home.
    Joe turns on a radio talk show, the host's keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good.  (He doesn't tell Joe that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day)  Joe agrees, "We don't need those big government liberals ruining our lives; after all, I'm a self made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have".
by John Gray, Cincinnati, Ohio – JGray7@cinci.rr.com -
Published July, 2004 – permission obtained

    But all of this is subject to change if enough of the "right" Republican politicians get elected!

See why Liberalism is so much better than Conservatism.

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