Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

The material I post on this blog represents my views and mine alone. The material you post on this blog represents your views and yours alone.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Labor Day -- 2011

As conservative political forces work hard to turn back the clock on government regulation, it's worthwhile to recall the conditions which created the needs for such governmental action.  Jack London's autobiographical story, "The Apostate" is a good place to start.  This comes from The Library of America "Story of the Week"

The Apostate

Jack London (1876–1916)
From Jack London: Novels and Stories

Jack London worked a number of odd jobs during his childhood years in West Oakland, California: delivering newspapers, sweeping salon floors, and setting up pins in a bowling alley. After he completed grammar school in 1890 at the age of fourteen, he found employment at the nearby Hickmott’s cannery, where he spent twelve to eighteen hours a day stuffing pickles into jars—at ten cents an hour. The work was strenuous, tedious, and robotic, and the long hours kept the teenager from his favorite pastime: reading in the local library. As Alex Kershaw notes in his biography of London, “There had been no attempt to outlaw child labor in California, nor was there health and safety regulation, nor any limits on hours worked.” Toward the end of the century, some states began passing laws prohibiting factory and quarry work for children under fourteen, but evasion was widespread and enforcement was spotty. . . . 


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