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It still takes two wings for a bird to fly

By Lee Paulson, Glenwood, MN

Despite the government controls imposed on big business, especially since the Teddy Roosevelt and Taft administrations, the gap continues to widen exponentially between the obscenely rich and the hapless poor. One can only imagine what this country would be like today without such government regulations on business practices. The rise of labor unions also helped to control unrestricted capitalism for a time, but since Reagan the unions have fallen upon exceptionally bad times, especially with an all-out campaign by the G.O.P. to destroy them utterly, though it was the unions alone that once created the largest middle class in history, delivering the American worker from the hellish exploitation by management from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

I am at present reviewing this period in American life with a foreign student who is taking a social studies class as part of his American experience. His problem with the language necessitates my mentoring him, and I am once again being reminded of the management/labor relations that characterized the desperation of the worker during the time period just described. Children were working ungodly hours for pennies a day, and the length of the working day for all workers was astonishing as well as working conditions in the sweat shops of the period. The workers had no voice and so management rode roughshod over their employees, much like slave masters without a conscience or any motive other than to make unlimited profits for themselves.

It was inevitable that the working class would eventually rise up in bloody protest and through united action win for themselves a living wage and improved working conditions. The entire market place was subjected to criticism through the muckrakers of the time such as Upton Sinclair, who exposed the filthy conditions of the slaughter houses overrun with rats everywhere and unrestricted processing procedures including rotting meat as well as mercilessly exploited workers. Sinclair in his exposition of the meat packing industry in his book The Jungle, forced Congress almost instantly to pass Pure Food and Drug laws, Meat Inspection and government supervision of all such formerly common practices of business management. It was the press that revealed to the public these hidden practices that brought about government intervention and controls to protect the consumer as well as the workers whose lives were endangered daily with no recompense in sight if on-the-job tragedy struck down anyone laboring under such unbelievable conditions. Of course, workers with such pitiful wages could only afford to live in ghettos where disease was rampant as sewage ran freely in the streets and uncollected garbage littered the neighborhoods. And who could correct these living conditions if not the government? Surely not business interests!

Yet there are millions of Americans today who are death on government intervention in any business practice demanding that its interference be curtailed drastically so exploitation of workers can commence once again. Our tax dollars should be used only for national security and not much else, according to their misguided thoughts on the subject. What they are really advocating is that the United States become a third world country where the rich are totally in control and the peasants continue to live only as servants of the exploitive classes. Thank God for a Big Government that alone is a fortress for the working classes against Big Business interests that use every loop hole to feed their graft and greed with no moral compass to restrain such behavior.

Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare have provided protection for the common good instituted by liberal factions in the government, but they were fought bitterly by Republicans and conservatives of all stripes and still are! Obamacare is now under the same kind of attacks, charged with being Socialist only because the plan seeks the help of government to remedy conditions in which bankruptcy faces families with stratospheric medical bills unless all contribute to a cause that is only just, and will prevent such situations in the future. Yes, it may be Socialism as government seeks to handle the problem as is absolutely necessary. Church suppers are not quite handling these dire circumstances. And remember both socialism and capitalism have their virtues and vices but it still takes two wings for a bird to fly!