November 25, 2016
Bring back child labor?
I used to think that I should devote my few remaining days on this earth to the noble cause of changing West Virginia's state motto from "Mountaineers Are Always Free," which doesn't really fit anymore, to "You can't make this **** up."
I'm starting to think that may need to be done for the nation instead. We are, after all having pluribus troubles with our unum.
Here's one example, which is particularly ironic or sad for those familiar with labor history. From the earliest days of the republic, a major demand of working people and the labor movement has been for free public education. Another key demand from long ago was the abolition of child labor. So it's just peachy that the Trump administration's pick for education secretary is someone devoted to torpedoing public education though vouchers and privatization. AND she's served on the board of an organization that celebrates the virtue of child labor.
Here's another cheer for child labor from a similar think tank that talks about how exciting mining can be for kids.
The picture above comes from the 1907 Monongah mine disaster, one of many that occurred in West Virginia. The official death toll was over 360, but nobody knows for sure. In the absence of child labor laws, it was customary for some miners to bring their boys to work with them. We'll never know how many children died in the disaster.
I guess some people find that exciting.