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Thread: Technological Progress Freed Kids from Hard Labor

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    Technological Progress Freed Kids from Hard Labor

    Pinker, Enlightenment Now, get this much right: Technological Progress Freed Kids from Hard Labor

    In his book Enlightenment Now, Harvard University professor Steven Pinker recounts how technology helped get boys off the farm and into the classroom. He quotes a tractor advertisement from 1921:

    “By investing in a Case Tractor and Ground Detour Plow and Harrow outfit now, your boy can get his schooling without interruption, and the Spring work will not suffer by his absence. Keep the boy in school—and let a Case Kerosene Tractor take his place in the field. You'll never regret either investment.”


    As more farms adopted efficiency-enhancing agricultural devices like kerosene tractors, more boys attended school instead of working the fields. For girls, the huge time savings brought on by labor-saving household devices played a similar role. As running water, electricity, washing machines, and other modern conveniences spread, time spent on housework plummeted. Pinker’s book also contains a telling chart documenting the change.



    Most of the work replaced by those technologies had traditionally fallen to mothers—and to their daughters. The time freed up by innovation enabled more girls to attend school....
    The same applied to the children parents put to work in factories at the dawn of the Industrial Age: As factories automated, they replaced the need for child labor. Reform came later.
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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    Someone said that,"the industrial advances changed children from as asset to a liability."
    Democrats are a clear and present danger to our democracy and our society.

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    Wasn't it child labor laws and not technology that freed the kids?

    On a side note there is a site called Shorpy Historical Photo Archive that contains photos of some of the working conditions experienced by children in textile mills and mines.
    “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
    — Atlas Shrugged (Part 3, Chapter 1, Page 731)

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    — The Fountainhead (Part 4, Chapter 14, Page 637)

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    Quote Originally Posted by DLLS View Post
    Wasn't it child labor laws and not technology that freed the kids?

    On a side note there is a site called Shorpy Historical Photo Archive that contains photos of some of the working conditions experienced by children in textile mills and mines.
    Labor laws--reform--came later. Had labor laws come fist, they would have crippled farming families because back then the farm depended on manual labor with simple tools like ax and plow and wheel. It was only after technology made children less valuable assets that politicians were able to "save" the day.

    Children then, as Captdon says, became liabilities to be schooled and sent off to live their own lives.

    Same is true of child labor in the early Industrial Revolution.
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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    Milton Friedman in A 1973 INTERVIEW WITH MILTON FRIEDMAN – PLAYBOY MAGAZINE:

    PLAYBOY: Even if minimum-wage laws have been as counterproductive as you say, isn’t there a need for some government intervention on behalf of the poor? Laissez faire, after all, has long been synonymous with sweatshops and child labor—conditions that were eliminated only by social legislation.
    FRIEDMAN: Sweatshops and child labor were conditions that resulted more from poverty than from laissez-faire economics. Wretched working conditions still exist in nations with all sorts of enlightened social legislation but where poverty is still extreme. We in the United States no longer suffer that kind of poverty because the free-enterprise system has allowed us to become wealthy.
    Thomas Woods expands on that:

    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by DLLS View Post
    Wasn't it child labor laws and not technology that freed the kids?

    On a side note there is a site called Shorpy Historical Photo Archive that contains photos of some of the working conditions experienced by children in textile mills and mines.
    It was a combination of the two. They were taken out of the mills by technology. They left the mines by laws on child labor and school laws.

    There was nothing wrong with it at that time. It seems wrong today bit it wasn't wrong then.
    Democrats are a clear and present danger to our democracy and our society.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Captdon View Post
    It was a combination of the two. They were taken out of the mills by technology. They left the mines by laws on child labor and school laws.

    There was nothing wrong with it at that time. It seems wrong today bit it wasn't wrong then.

    Child Labor: An American History (.pdf) reviews the laws and technology related to child labor in mining. True, both laws and technology advanced apace but mostly the laws were ignored or bypassed--parents could, for example, purchase permits to let their kids work--while automation gradually made child labor obsolete. Laws are great but tend to be ineffective when people's livelihood is at stake.
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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    This graph in that article is curious.



    I've never heard of any method or project -- government or otherwise, that ever gathered and compiled this kind of information, and I can't imagine how anyone could ever come up with the data for it except as a figment of their calculating imagination. It can't be based on any real data, or enlighten me if it is.

    Admittedly, I'm not the brightest penny, but my question is, why do it -- why make it up? It clouds the entire article.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lummy View Post
    This graph in that article is curious.



    I've never heard of any method or project -- government or otherwise, that ever gathered and compiled this kind of information, and I can't imagine how anyone could ever come up with the data for it except as a figment of their calculating imagination. It can't be based on any real data, or enlighten me if it is.

    Admittedly, I'm not the brightest penny, but my question is, why do it -- why make it up? It clouds the entire article.


    There's lots of beancounters in the government.

    More than that, I can't account for the sources of Pinker's chart. I don't plan on buying his book as he has far too optimistic view of the world.
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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    Well, they aren't going to go out in the field and survey households about vacuuming and washing clothes unless someone tells them to do it. In writing. In triplicate. Since it would have been a massive survey for more than a century, the paper trail would be enormous.

    I calculate that the resulting stack of paper would reach all the way to Jupiter.


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