The Dignity of Labor – The Day and the Times

Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana) Sep 4, 1910

THE DAY AND THE TIMES.

Never in the history of this holiday has it come in a time so distracted and torn with industrial trouble. Labor day this year finds strikes in every part of the country, with greater upheavals brewing and vastly worse conditions threatened. It is an evil ferment. The world has just emerged from the greatest and most destructive war of all time and of everything the world today stands in need there is not enough. The costs of living here and everywhere are as a consequence at unprecedented levels. Every interference with production, every trammel upon distribution, every obstruction to commerce can have no effect but to give fresh impulse to the ascent of prices.

In this country a widespread strike in the steel and iron industry threatens to inflict practically all industry save agriculture with a paralysis from which everybody will suffer. Farther in the foreground looms the dire possibilities of a general railway strike that once launched can spell but calamity for every interest and every person. No living head in the land can wholly escape some touch of that blight. A fortnight’s tie-up of transportation will see the county stricken to idleness, hunger stalking through  the land and disorder fomenting on every side. This is no picture conjured by idle fancy. The railroads must keep things moving or there can be neither work nor wages, neither food nor fuel, and starving, freezing millions will create a ferment out of which anarchy will not be slow to rise hideously. There can be no temporizing with the question of transportation or no transportation.

Everybody suffers from abnormal conditions. Labor — meaning, that is, the unions — is suffering no more than other classes and varieties of humans who earn what they must have to live and much less than most of them. Striking to advance wages or to impose conditions simply serves to make evil conditions more acute. The need is to find the way to make the cost of living more tolerable and the means by which alone that can be done is to increase production of everything whereof there is a shortage in the world. Drives against profiteers and profiteering may here and there effect some relief, but it will be neither general nor great in degree. There can be no thorough relief in which everybody may share until something like normal conditions are restored and nothing will contribute so much to that consummation as that everybody shall remain at work, do his best and permit on every hand that the best be done.

It is a time for all labor everywhere — organized and unorganized, manual toilers and brain workers, every sort upon whose effort depends in some measure the moving of the essential affairs of the world — to keep a clear head, a stout heart and a spirit of readiness to work together and steadfastly until it has at length worked out the problem of the times. Bolshevism, socialism or any ism, cult or lunacy will not overcome the world’s shortage of necessaries. Only work can do that and the more there are who will stick to the job of producing the sooner will shortage be overcome and conditions reduced to normal. Wild-eyed radicalism will not add a peck of grain nor a pound of beef to the world’s short store. The steadfast industry of all everywhere who are able to produce something needed can pull this old world out of the hole and by no force other can it be done.

Fort Wayne Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana) Sep 1, 1919

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