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after child-birth. And if this enforced abstention of women from wage-earning necessitates State support for mothers and infants, or something of the sort, then to that we must come. Such proposals must not be damned as "socialistic”; they must be considered on their Own merits. The American principle of Equality demands a fair chance for every mother and child; whatever devices may be necessary to procure that must be accepted.
Particularly inexcusable, in our prosperous land, is the stealing from children of their playtime and school-time, to save the hiring of more expensive adult workers. In spite of the efforts of reformers for a generation, child-labor on a great scale remains, a disgrace to our civilization. Something like two million children under sixteen are wage-earners in the United States. The Keating-Owen Federal ChildLabor Law, passed in 1916, was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, by a five to four vote, and the safeguarding of the vitality of the American people by preventing the labor of young children in mills and factories, thereby relegated to the States as a matter of purely local concern. Unhappily, the laws of many of the States are extremely lax. A clause in a revenue bill passed by Congress after the Supreme Court's decision was announced, seeks to restrain child-labor by levying a tax upon the profits of establishments where too young children are employed, or older children are employed too long. This bill has been taken to the Supreme Court for consideration; its decision has not, at time of writing, been announced.
A number of States permit children under fourteen to work in factories and mills. Some States permit boys of twelve to work in mines. Many States permit young children to work on night-shifts. Few States set an eight-hour maximum for the child's workingday. Where humane restrictions are written into the Statutes, they are commonly waived for the benefit of certain industries—as for the canning industry, because of the perishable nature of fruits and vegetables. Moreover, such laws as exist are seldom strictly enforced. A Government Commission investigating the matter in 1918 found that in New York City in one of the largest industries over ninety-six per cent of the factories employing women and chil. dren were violating some provision of the child-labor laws. In three months of a recent year, one hundred and fifteen prosecutions were instituted in Ohio for violations of the child-labor and woman's-labor laws. In three-fourths of these cases the fines imposed were remitted or suspended. In other States there is scarcely even an attempt at prosecution, public opinion being unfavorable to enforcement. This state of things is likely to continue until the people in general awake to the serious public menace of this exploitation of the children.
The National Child-Labor Committee is responsible for the statement that during the first half of 1920 there was an increase of child-laborin fourteen States. Most of this can not be restricted by the existing laws. On the farms, and in the cotton fields, children are set to work by their parents; in some cases children five years old have been found doing a pretty long day's work. Instances are cited by investigators where parents have insisted upon their children's working, that they might add a little to the family income and purchase an automobile or some other luxury!
It seems to be not enough to plead for the child's, right to play and to schooling, to point out that to spend his days in productive labor, while normal for an adult, is a misuse of the formative years, when a child should put all its energies into learning about the world and building up a sound foundation of health. Even to point to the demoralization of childworkers, the increase of juvenile delinquency, which is very striking among these working-children, arouses little attention. We must address our appeals to the pocket-book!
Well, the argument on this basis is conclusive. Statistics show that "for every dollar earned by a child under fourteen, tenfold will be taken from its earning capacity in later years." There is an immediate gain to the employer; but in the long run the State loses far more than it gains by the premature entrance of children into industry. The total earning capacity of a man during his working-life is far greater if he waits until his health is secured upon a firm basis by a carefully safeguarded childhood, and a reasonable degree of education is secured, before he enters the ranks of the wage-earners.
Recent studies show clearly the increase of diseases among children who go to work; the normal exercise and growth of their bodies is interfered with; they become prematurely old or unfit. In addition to this almost universal effect, children are far more apt to be careless in their handling of machinery; in a recent year twenty thousand children under sixteen were killed or injured in industry in Massachusetts alone. If carefully prepared figures were available for the country as a whole, they would be appalling. The eugenic loss is of serious import; we are impairing the vitality of future generations by this sacrifice of our children to the greedy jaws of industry. This utilitarian consideration should move those who can coldly contemplate the sight of thousands of boys and girls, pale and listless, ignorant, uneducated,
"weeping in the playtime of the others, In the country of the free.”
The pathos of the overwork of women and children is heightened by the realization that the involuntary unemployment of able-bodied men is a chronically recurrent aspect of our industrial order. Some industries, such as coal-mining, never offer continuous employment; the average coal-miner is unable to find work for more than two-thirds of the working days of the year. Nearly all our industries, under their present management, are subject to great fluctuations in the number of workers to whom they offer employment. And it has become a common phenomenon for a mill or factory to shut down for a few weeks or months, at a moment's notice, in order to produce a scarcity of goods and raise the price of the product.
The amount of involuntary unemployment in the United States varies in normal times from four or five per cent of the workers upward. In January, 1915, forty per cent of the workers in New York City were reported out of work. In January, 1921, statistics showed that over two million workers were out of work, the country over. That such a situation works severe hardship needs no argument; few of these workers have been able to lay aside a reserve of savings sufficient for a period of enforced idleness. The problem is a difficult one, and cannot be discussed within the limits of this volume. But we must insist here upon the essential right of every citizen to work, as a corollary of his duty to work. There must be no considerable idleness at either end of the scale
among the rich, who can afford to idle, or among the poor, to whom idleness is the great horror. The problem is not impossible of solution; many proposals, tried here and there, offer ways to ameliorate or cure this evil of our industrial system. We may hesitate to commit ourselves to this or that “radical” proposal. But somehow America must ensure to every ablebodied person the opportunity to work—if possible, at a vocation congenial to his powers and tastes—but at least at a job that will maintain his self-respect and ensure him and his family against destitution. Work is a universal need, and must always be open to all.
We may go further, and say that reasonably pleasant work is the due of every American citizen. Whether all necessary work can be made, by the progress of human invention, reasonably pleasant, and, if not, who is to do the hopelessly disagreeable work, are questions not easy to answer. Possibly we may some day accept William James's suggestion, and through a six month's or a year's conscription of our youth, require every citizen to do his share of the dirty and disagreeable work that must be done. But certainly most work can be made reasonably pleasant for the healthy adult. And there is no excuse for the dusty, sunless, poorly ventilated, unsanitary factories and mills that still so largely disgrace our civilization. It is useless to speak of the "dignity of labor" to men and women whose labor is spent in ugly and unhealthy surroundings. Nothing is more important than to maintain a good morale among workers; their degree of zest in their work will affect not only the quantity and quality of goods produced, but their health, their attitude toward their fellowmen, and their happiness. "In some way we must get the