Bringing Back Child Labor?

beakerboys
Breaker Boys of PA Coal Co., 1911

An international friend brought a horrifying article to my attention over the weekend. It did not involve terrorism, Syria, the Standing Rock fiasco, or even Harambe. It was far more subtle a subject, far more insidious, and based on many misconceptions and quiet propaganda. The article was originally called, Bring Back Child Labor, until the author, Joseph Sunde, received such backlash he changed it to, Work is a Gift Our Kids can Handle.

Posted on the Acton Institute Power Blog, I detected some hints of conservative Christian homeschooling rhetoric I remembered from a few years ago, when I was involved in that movement with/for my small children. The Acton Institute’s stated mission is, “to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.” While the rest of the About page seeks to portray an ecumenical, almost secular and educated feel (nowhere is the word “Christian” mentioned), a quick look through Acton’s bookshop* proves their exclusively Christian underpinnings.

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s current pick for Secretary of Education, who recently made headlines with her trademark support of charter schools and school vouchers, is also a supporter of the Acton Institute, among others. This, in conjunction with the article in question, has deeply concerned many onlookers about the possible future of public education in America, but the rabbit hole goes deeper still.


And Now a Word from our Sponsors…

For at least the past 10 years, the Homeschool Legal Defense Fund (HSLDA) has made it their mission to reduce state laws pertaining to child labor. In the states of Missouri and South Dakota, they have successfully overturned previous child labor laws in the name of homeschool anti-discrimination. They have been working on a federal bill to the same end nationwide since 2006*. The HSLDA represents the welfare and rights of not just homeschoolers, but ultra-conservative Evangelical Christian homeschoolers in particular (more on HSLDA in another post).

It is the position of the HSLDA, that children as young as 12 should be allowed to work, if their parents view such work as beneficial to the child’s education.

“…a 12-year-old homeschooler in Illinois was manning the cash register for his family’s business after his morning schoolwork was done. He enjoyed the opportunity to earn a little money, and his parents knew that it helped him hone his math skills. Unfortunately, a customer did not feel the same way. She turned the family in to the Illinois Labor Department. After looking into the matter, the department prohibited the boy from working during school hours.” –Source

The article claims many of the child labor laws enacted by states in throughout the 1800s were necessary for their time, but are “outdated”, and suggests that all federal laws regarding child labor restrictions were and are superfluous (no question where this organization stands on states’ rights!). The article continues by outlining general laws pertaining to working children at different ages. A few key laws include:

  • No child under 16 may work during school hours, which are defined as public school hours (typically 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m., depending on the state).
  • The child is limited to 3 hours of work per day during a school week, or 18 hours a week.
  • He may not work before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. except from June 1 to Labor Day, when evening hours are extended to 9:00 p.m.
  • Children may perform agricultural jobs for employers who have filed a waiver with the federal secretary of labor for exemption from the work hours and minimum age requirements for those particular jobs.
  • A child may only work during school hours if he is not getting paid. An example of such a situation is a school “work study” program, in which children gain work experience for educational purposes. –Source

The question remains: Why should some Christians seek to overturn these child labor laws?


Look how “Happy (Doc and Dopey)” are the “children” working in the mines! They exemplify proper economics and virtue!

Why would Sunde (getting back to the original article in question) feel encouraged to blithely insist the Washington Post’s recent photo montage of dirty, poorly clothed child laborers from the early 1900s, was over-the-top for (rightly) calling the pictures “haunting”. Several of those kids were smoking for crying out loud! Or does Sunde think being filthy, poor, abused, and developing lung cancer are signs of virtuous character?

He seems to ignore those details, opting to focus on a favorite conservative fantasy that these children were using their “creative talents” to “build enterprises and cities, using their gifts to serve their communities, and setting the foundation of a flourishing nation.”

Sunde quotes heavily and with admiration, one Jeffrey Tucker from the Foundation for Economic Education. Tucker’s article titled, Let the Kids Work, is a perfect example of someone who is disconnected from reality. He calls the Washington Post’s photos, “beautiful”, and proceeds to imagine what the children in the pictures must have experienced:

“They are working in the adult world, surrounded by cool bustling things and new technology. They are on the streets, in the factories, in the mines, with adults and with peers, learning and doing. They are being valued for what they do, which is to say being valued as people. They are earning money. Whatever else you want to say about this, it’s an exciting life.”

Tucker pretends to believe the whopper that, “it was the market, not the government that reduced and nearly eliminated full-time grueling child labor.” Didn’t he just say those abused children were actually having the time of their lives? Didn’t he then proceed to make fun of those who might protest on the children’s behalf with, “Oh, look how exploitative it is!”

While Sunde insists in a new disclaimer, “I do NOT endorse replacing education with paid labor…nor do I support getting rid of mandatory education at elementary and middle-school ages.” Yet his own essay quotes Tucker’s insane words, “If kids were allowed to work and compulsory school attendance was abolished, the jobs of choice would be at Chick-Fil-A and WalMart.” (emphasis added by me)

Sunde goes on to say,

“In our schools and educational systems, what if we stopped prioritizing “intellectual” work to the detriment of practical knowledge and physical labor, paving new paths to a more holistic approach to character formation? In our policy and governing institutions, what if we put power back in the hands of parents and kids, dismantling the range of excessive legal restrictions, minimum wage fixings, and regulations that lead our children to work less and work later?”


Our forefathers’ greatest mission was free and public education for all American citizens, so Americans would not be subject to oppression! Washington and Franklin and the others are spinning in their graves to hear such blasphemies from so-called modern educated (Christian) men.

The reality of working children due to the continued and inexcusable lack of oversight of homeschooled kids is already a current problem:

“In some cases, educational neglect may occur when a homeschooled child is expected to work rather than study. In some cases…homeschooled children may be treated as servants and expected to do childcare and housecleaning rather than completing homeschool lessons. In other cases, homeschooled children’s education may cease at age 12 or 14 as they are expected to work full time, often in family businesses or doing various manual labor. “By 11, he was working full time with his dad who did construction,” writes Miranda of her homeschool graduate husband. “By 14, he was in the woods logging, carrying the full weight of a grown man’s job, helping bring home income for his parents.” These children are frequently not paid for their labor, and are thus both deprived of an education and exploited…These children often reach adulthood limited by their lack of education, their career path chosen by their parents through their failure to educate.” –Source

It’s even more of a problem for some homeschooled girls, whose educations are often devalued as they are raised to be “keepers at home”. The Coalition for Responsible Home Education quotes from Christian leader RC Sproul Jr., ““She [a nine-year-old homeschooled girl] doesn’t know how to read, but every morning she gets up and gets ready for the day. Then takes care of her three youngest siblings. She takes them to the potty, she cleans and dresses them, makes their breakfasts, brushes their teeth, clears their dishes, and makes their beds.” Now I [Sproul] saw her rightly, as an overachiever.”

Though it hasn’t been updated in 3 years, Sunde’s blog, Remnant Culture, features a telling who’s-who* of Evangelical and Catholic leaders and organizations whose mission is to instill pure capitalism (free market/free enterprise) in order to bring back the individual freedoms of religion and democracy they believe they have lost.

It is rather shocking that the very people who give the most lip service to education, America’s Founding Fathers, the value of children, and Christian morals, are the same ones advocating for elimination of compulsory education laws, a reduction of child labor laws, and the idolization of one form of human (i.e. fallible) government. In their minds, free enterprise is next to godliness (more on that in a later post). Make no mistake, the Industrial Revolution, America’s purest age of capitalism sans legal restrictions, saw the exploitation of everyone that possibly could be exploited. It was no less than the Northern form of slavery, without the personal investment of human chattel.

*Note: the shop link on the About page appears broken.

** When I first read Sunde’s essay on 11/27/16, he had included a statement about ending compulsory education at 8th grade. You will not find this quote in his current essay, it has since been deleted. The following comment references this quote, and there may be others: http://disq.us/p/1dx5k74.

*If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to my blog for just $1.50/month.


Resources

The Coalition for Responsible Homeschooling

Responsible Homeschooling, “Abuse in Homeschooling Environments”

Reuters, “India Children Labour”

Homeschool Federation, “Child Labor: What’s Going On?”


Cited Sources

http://blog.acton.org/archives/89837-bring-back-child-labor-work-is-a-gift-our-kids-can-handle.html

http://blog.acton.org/archives/author/jsunde

http://blog.acton.org/

http://blog.acton.org/about

http://shop.acton.org/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/11/23/betsy-devos-trumps-education-pick-is-a-billionaire-philanthropist-with-deep-ties-to-the-reformed-christian-community/

https://www.hslda.org/hs/state/sd/201403240.asp

http://www.hslda.org/cms/?q=bill/hb-1132-changes-child-labor-laws-make-them-homeschool-friendly

http://nche.hslda.org/courtreport/V22N3/V22N303.asp

http://nche.hslda.org/courtreport/V22N3/V22N303.asp

http://www.responsiblehomeschooling.org/policy-issues/abuse-and-neglect/educational-neglect/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/in-sight/wp/2016/10/31/20-haunting-portraits-of-child-laborers-in-1900s-america/

https://fee.org

https://fee.org/articles/let-the-kids-work/

http://remnantculture.com/

http://www.naspaa.org/jpaemessenger/Article/VOL20-1/06_Cook%20Klay.pdf

http://www.responsiblehomeschooling.org/policy-issues/abuse-and-neglect/educational-neglect/

http://disq.us/p/1dx5k74

Advertisements

Strangulation on Medicine: My Life as a Pain Patient

See also: An Open Letter to Dr. Kolodny, The Truth About the Opioid Crisis, and A Rock and a Hard Place: Pain Patients Suffer from Heroin Laws Fallout

Imagine, if you will: Waking up morning after morning, with sudden, inexplicable, extreme pain in one side that leaves you bedridden for a few hours, then a few days, a few weeks, a whole year.

Imagine not being able to find the source of the pain. Spending every week with a different doctor. Spending at least $200 on each doctor. Trying at least one new prescription every month. Spending at least $30 on each prescription. Watching the medical bills pile up, knowing you are the sole cause of each one.

IMG_9121_1a_watermarkImagine watching your young children struggle to learn to live without you. Being unable to volunteer at your child’s school because, although you have the time, you don’t have the physical stamina. Being unable to attend most school events, and seeing the disappoint on your children’s faces when you have to tell them, “I’m so sorry, baby, Mommy just can’t do it.” Spelling bees, science fairs, choir concerts, end-of-school picnics, and most painful, 5th grade graduation.

Imagine seeing your spouse become literally bent over and graying early under the stress of being essentially a single parent, plus the stress of being a full-time adult care-giver, while holding down a full-time job, and doing all the cooking, cleaning, and fixing, while also going to school part time.

Imagine being unable to visit your beloved, aging grandparents who live 5 hours away. Or being unable to visit best friends who live 1 hour away. Being unable to attend weddings of dear family and friends because they are “too far away” at 30 minutes to 1 hour. Being unable to travel more than 15 minutes by car. Being unable to walk more than 10 minutes-on a good day.

Imagine being a house-bound invalid at age 31, feeling your muscles becoming a little weaker every day. Swallowing your pride to buy a cane, and using that cane (in public) to support your bad leg on those lucky days you do get out. Imagine shopping for electric wheelchairs since not walking seems to be the new normal, and you are being driven crazy from being stuck inside for so long. Imagine shopping for walkers at age 31. Imagine the embarrassment of personally knowing many people, twice your age, more active than you.

IMG_1646_1a
Me, my dog, and Poe. This is where and how I spent much of my life for 2 years.

With “Care” Like This…

Imagine having your insurance company refuse to pay for things that might shed important light on your problem, or help make it better. Things like MRIs, prescribed back braces, insurance-required physical therapy, any number of expensive drugs or treatments.

Imagine having your primary care doctor whom you’ve known for 7 years, refuse to treat your pain, because new laws prevent him. Imagine him suggesting you are overreacting,and your pain can’t be as bad as you say, even though he just looked at your x-rays and declared your problem will never get better, and cannot be fixed.

Imagine your doctor prescribing a medication that does nothing for your pain, but causes brain dysfunction in the form of a manic episode. Imagine that when you tell your doctor this, he suggests you see a chronic pain specialist who cannot see you for at least 1 month, will insist on giving you invasive, risky, epidural (link) injections that may or may not help your pain, but are terribly expensive and painful.

Imagine your doctor, after telling you you will not get better, brushing off your request for disability papers because you are “too young”. Imagine your doctor brushing off your request for an expert opinion in the form of a neurosurgeon referral, or brushing off your request for further testing.

Imagine, if you will: Being unable to think or work. Imagine feeling so very tired all the time, or anxious too often, or deeply depressed. Imagine feeling worthless, no, more than worthless, a real burden on the ones you love most financially, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Imagine wanting to end your life, and planning it, at least once a week. Imagine crying for hours at a time, because there seems to be no end to the pain, the frustration, the uncertainty, the bills.

IMG_9220_1a_watermark


The Solution to Your Problem is Simple…

Now imagine, if you will: At the end of the year, finally having your chiropractor (whom you have been seeing for insurance-required, but not insurance-paid physical therapy) order an MRI. Imagine, after a fight with your doctor who was annoyed you went over his head and had an MRI, while also insisting on a neurosurgeon referral, finally landing a doctor who reads the x-rays and MRI, understands your problem and (could it be possible after all this time!?) fix it.

Imagine hearing the news you were dreading, that you will need a spinal fusion (a major, delicate surgery, with a long recovery) and discectomy; that your lowest vertebrae are separated, and have been for years and years; that this has allowed a spinal disc to slide out of place, forcefully compressing a nerve; that this is the cause of your inability to walk, to ride in a car, to sit comfortably, to sleep through the night, to live well. Imagine scheduling your surgery and feeling like all the pieces are finally falling into place; there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

Imagine, if you will: A slow recovery that begins with immense pain and not being able to walk, to dress yourself, to bathe yourself, to lie down, to sit outside. Imagine feeling very old and very frail. Imagine every month expecting to turn an invisible corner in pain relief, energy, and movement ability, but only seeing little, gradual bits of progress here and there. Imagine that month 3’s post-op big accomplishment is going to the store (accompanied by a driver, because you have hardly driven in well over a year), by using the store’s electric cart and your back brace. Image month 4’s big accomplishment is making it through a brief session of physical therapy without needing a 3-hour nap afterwards.

The Right to Suffer:

Imagine everything you do/can do depends on how well your pain is managed: Getting necessary and wanted exercise; getting (finally) out of the house; getting around the house; sleeping through the night; doing a few light chores; having the energy and ability to focus on things you love like reading, playing board games with the kids, having visitors over, sitting in your garden swing, or just laughing.

Now imagine, if you will: Your surgeon, the only one familiar with your case, your surgery, your history, not legally being able to manage your pain after just 3 months. Imagine being referred by your surgeon to your primary care doctor, who refuses to treat your pain (but only tells you that after an office visit), and refers you to a chronic pain specialist who cannot see you for at least 2 weeks, who has little knowledge of how to treat acute (short term and surgery) pain, who has little knowledge of spinal fusions or surgeries in general, who changes your medication 7 different times in 3 months, who prescribes super-expensive medicines that you cannot pay for, who prescribes medicines that make you so sick, you are either in bed or in the bathroom all day, meaning your spouse must work from home to watch the kids, making you worry about his job security, which makes you anxious for how to feed your kids.

pain scale

Imagine this chronic pain specialist under-medicates you for 3 months, insists on treating periodic, break-through pain with 12 and 24 hour narcotics which make you sick, which are MORE likely to produce addiction. Imagine, that despite doctors’ promises about proper pain management, when you finally refuse to be a guinea pig anymore, and ask for the simple, effective, economical medicine option, you are treated like an addict despite all the urine tests you’ve taken to prove you are not, despite the good faith contract you signed at the office just to be seen, and despite all the paperwork that double-checked your claims, medical history, and medicines across your entire provider network–hey, whatever happened to HIPPA laws?

Doctors said that the vast majority of the patients who need pain medications don’t abuse them. Source

IMG_9200_1a_watermark
The way is shut.

Imagine having a pain specialist who you cannot get in touch with for 3 days when your latest prescription, filled only 3 days prior, gave you diarrhea, chills, major migraines, insomnia, and finally a psychotic episode in which you cried for 3 hours and stormed out of the house at 5am, pacing the front yard like an animal as your spouse watched horrified from the front door.

Imagine having a pain specialist who accuses you of breaking your signed pain contract with them, because you told them in order to make it through the weekend, you had to cut old medicines from right after the surgery in half, since you couldn’t get in contact with them. Imagine having to tell them this, because at first they thought you hadn’t taken anything over the weekend, therefore you didn’t “need anything now”. Then imagine them dropping you as a patient like a hot rock.

Imagine:

Without pain management, not only can you not do what you need to or want, you begin to get cranky. You lash out at your kids and spouse without reason, like an animal in pain, because that’s what you are. Imagine finally collapsing into a tired, depressed heap, contemplating the cleanest ways to end your life, to end this pain for good.

Imagine:

  • Knowing that government officials who don’t know you, who are not doctors, who don’t see your pain, assume you will abuse the legitimate medicines that make life livable for you. 
  • Knowing that these officials have made it effectively, though not “technically”, impossible to get what to you, is truly a life-saving medicine. 
  • Knowing that the “stats”, “facts”, and “research” that are behind the new laws that have made it impossible for you to get help, are very, very skewed and without actual merit. 
  • Hearing glib, pain-free people cheerfully announce that exercise, meditation, and a funny movie will remove their pain as well as any pill. 
  • Knowing that real drug abusers who have been breaking laws, can get their addiction meds, often free, while your legitimate, provable, documented, legal medical condition is treated with contempt by law makers. *Sign a petition here! 
  • Knowing that pain patients all over America, “the land of the free”, are needlessly suffering so that some politicians can look good in photo ops and in newspapers. 
  • Knowing that we don’t allow animals to suffer like the laws have made actual people suffer. 
  • Knowing that pain patients have a small voice, because they are too broke from trying to follow the burdensome laws suddenly imposed on them for things outside of their control; because they are too tired from fighting pain and doctors all day, all week, all month, all year long, to use the last of their energy to make their voices heard in politics, rather than spending time with family.

Imagine:

Spending all day trying to find another pain specialist, but being told by the first promising 4 they would not take acute pain cases, and could not recommend any one who would. Imagine calling your surgeon, desperate for help but being told their hands were legally tied. Imagine calling your primary care doctor, but being told they would not do anything, and to go to the ER if the pain “was that bad” (it’s not; you don’t need morphine injections, you just need something a bit stronger than acetaminophen, and you certainly don’t need an extra $6,000 medical bill).

Imagine not being able to take even ibuprofen, per your surgeon’s instructions, or being afraid of liver damage from too heavy acetaminophen use, or being on the phone for 5 hours, trying to find someone, anyone who can or will help.Imagine hanging up exhausted at the end of the day, and having nowhere to turn.

While nerve pain seeps into your side, your muscles begin to stiffen, and you desperately try to ward off an aching back and tailbone (you know, those parts that were recently severed and have bones, new hardware, and deep tissue working to heal) by sitting on an ice pack. The ice pack your now-defunct pain specialist told you not to use (although your surgeon recommended it), along with discontinuing those muscle relaxers your surgeon prescribed.

Imagine all this, if you can…

IMG_9222_watermark
Take a walk in my shoes

See also: On Opioids: OneYear After DEA Reforms and On Opioids: America’s Drug Addiction and the Wacky Laws that Perpetuate Them


*If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to my blog for just $1.50/month.


 

Take Action Now!

Garnering Support for Pain Patients, Media Sample Letter

Garnering Support for Pain Patients, Political Sample Letter and Petition


Learn More:

Opioid Epidemic, Drug-Mix Overdose Death

Pain Care Shouldn’t Be Political Theater

How Bad Can Corporations Be?

IMG_8202
Jousting is fun, feudalism is not. Image copyright by Loura Lawrence.

“So to speak, I was become a stockholder in a corporation where nine hundred and ninety-four of the members furnished all the money and did all the work, and the other six elected themselves a permanent board of direction and took all dividends. It seemed to me that what the nine hundred and ninety-four dupes needed was a new deal.” A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,
Mark Twain, 1889.

What are the legal limits when it comes to private institutions and corporations versus worker’s rights? Do these companies have a right to determine or limit how adults choose to make legal life choices? The answers are a shocking “not many” and “yes”, and many businesses take gross advantage of their employees. For a country that prides itself on freedom of choice for its people and the advocacy of human rights, this state of things simply should not be.

Take this article for example, which reports on certain Christian colleges that ban students from having abortions, sex outside of marriage, or single parents (specifically mothers), but have received federal exemptions from this being legally called discrimination (this, in direct contrast to the federal bullying endured by this Illinois school district I wrote about a few weeks ago): http://www.christianpost.com/news/pro-life-christian-college-exemption-abortion-152317/

hobby lobbyThese colleges are similar to the recent Supreme Court/Hobby Lobby birth-control exemption, as well as several other religious organizations that have received similar treatment, and while I will admit to being pro-life and encouraging Christian values, I frankly do not think it is the business of a college, even a religious one, to hand-pick students based on lifestyle rather than academics. The school or religious corporation may teach what it wants, it should not be allowed to ban students or fire employees because they disagree with a student or employee’s legal lifestyle choices.

In the secular sector are companies that go so far as to forbid employees from smoking, even in their homes; the worrisome increase in monitoring employees’ private communications at work or on social media; even the ability to fire a worker for a bumper sticker. While businesses are certainly entitled to some protections against bad workers, there seem to be no protections for workers from bad businesses.

“What most Americans generally don’t know is that the Constitution doesn’t apply to private corporations at all.” ~Lewis Maltby, President of the National Workrights Institute, author of Can They Do That?

“Some employers who issue company cell phones use [GPS] technology to track employees during their private lives, often in secret. Recently developed genetic tests allow employers to determine whether you carry the genes linked to breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other serious illnesses. Employers are starting to use this knowledge to keep people out of the workforce to save money on corporate medical costs. Some biometric security systems, such as retina scans (which chart the blood vessels in your eye), reveal sensitive medical information such as whether you are diabetic, and facilitate identity theft.” http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123024596


How did it come to this? Human history tends toward these abuses by the wealthy and powerful again and again. It happened during the Middle Ages between feudalism and the Church, it happened during the monarchies of the 1700s, prompting international revolutions, it happened during the American Gilded Age of 1870-about 1900, and it is happening again, now.

Written in 1906, The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, caused a sensation that translated into national social and law reform (and a national reduction in the consumption of meat for a decade!). The novel follows a newly immigrated family to the meat-packing industry of Chicago, and graphically details the sordid abuses of government officials and employers that routinely took place against workers and society. Lest you think these abuses are long gone in history, I have given at least one modern example that parallels the “old”.

meat packing

“Trimming beef off the bones by the hundred weight, while standing up from morning till late at night, with heavy boots on and the floor always damp and full of puddles, liable to be thrown out of work indefinitely because of slackening in the trade, liable again to be kept overtime in rush seasons, and be worked till she trembled in every nerve and lost her grip on her slimy knife, and gave herself a poisoned wound–that was the new life that unfolded itself before Marija.” p 105

According to the book, The Cheating Culture, by David Callahan (2004):

“Between 1979 and 2000, the amount of time spent at work by the average [American] employee increased by 162 hours–an extra month a year. Between 1989 and 2000 alone, average annual hours increased by 95, more than two additional weeks on the job. Another solution [to rising financial pressures] has been to borrow money…American households who have credit card debt have seen their balances increase by 66 percent in the past decade…Yet with even harder work and heavier borrowing, many people still can’t keep up.” p. 119

“The equivalent of natural selection at Enron was the performance-review system that Skilling implemented within the company. Better known as “rank and yank” or “forced ranking,”the system compelled Enron managers to rate all their employees every six months from one to five, and then fire 15 percent of those at the bottom every year, even if these “fives” were actually not bad employees…Rank and yank became common in the ruthless corporate world of the 1990s, and remains widely used today…The system was frequently used for vendettas…[or] to silence dissent.” p. 130


In addition to the lack of workers’ rights within corporations are environmental scandals, community abuses, and political cover-ups.

Writes Sinclair,

“‘Bubbly Creek’ is an arm of the Chicago River…all the drainage of the square mile of packing houses empties into it, so that it is really a great open sewer, a hundred or two feet wide…The filth stays there forever and a day…here and there [it] has caked solid…Every now and then the surface would catch fire and burn furiously, and the fire department would have to come and put it out.” p. 94

The 2000 film, Erin Brockovich details the real-life story of one California town that had been a dumping ground for the PG&E corporation since 1966, with serious consequences to the health of those living there.

“The packers had secret mains, through which they stole billions of gallons of the city’s water. The newspapers had been full of this scandal–once there had even been an investigation, and an actual uncovering of the pipes; but nobody had been punished, and the thing went right on.” p. 94, The Jungle

Compare this issue of meatpacking companies stealing water, written about in 1906, and this modern day one involving a foreign water bottling company stealing water from the forests of California, a state dealing with severe, long-term drought.

“The people of Chicago saw the government inspectors in Packingtown, and they all took that to mean that they were protected from diseased meat; they did not understand that these hundred and sixty-three inspectors had been appointed at the request of the packers, and that they were paid by the United States Government to certify that all the diseased meat had been kept in the state. They had no authority beyond that; for the inspection of meat to be sold in the city and state, the whole force in Packingtown consisted of three henchmen of the local political machine!” p. 94-95, The Jungle

More than 100 years after The Jungle was written, the exact same abuses are taking place in none other than, yes, meat packing industries. From the article, https://newrepublic.com/article/120982/hormels-usda-food-inspector-scandal-reveals-lax-conditions:

“A government-run pilot program experimenting with a reduced inspection protocol in Hormel-controlled plants “is out of control,” according to Joe Ferguson, who retired in September as an on-line USDA inspector inside Quality Pork Processors, an exclusive co-packer for Hormel located in Austin, Minnesota. Calling the program “a sham the career bureaucrats have drafted to get rid of inspectors,” he warned that higher-ups at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are “in bed with the regulated industry. The companies are now calling the shots. Pretty soon the agency will have no authority.”

Two other sources reveal similar issues with tainted meat and poor inspection for the sake of more money at the expense of people in the United States, see here and here.


“Here was a population, low-class and mostly foreign, hanging always on the verge of starvation, and dependent for its opportunities of life upon the whim of men every bit as brutal and unscrupulous as old-time slave drivers…Things that were quite unspeakable went on there in the packing houses all the time, and were taken for granted by everybody, only they did not show, as in the old slavery times, because there was no difference in color between master and slave.” p 106, The Jungle

In 1935, in response to The Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed the National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act (among several other laws), that ensured workers’ collective bargaining rights (unions) with corporations, and prohibited corporations from interfering with labor unions, stating:

“The inequality of bargaining power between employees who do not possess full freedom of association or actual liberty of contract and employers who are organized in the corporate or other forms of ownership association substantially burdens and affects the flow of commerce, and tends to aggravate recurrent business depressions, by depressing wage rates and the purchasing power of wage earners in industry and by preventing the stabilization of competitive wage rates and working conditions within and between industries.”

Those reforms stayed put until the 1980s, when, according to David Callahan, a slew of deregulation laws passed during the 80s, stripped unions and workers:

“As lead advocates of downsizing and defanging government, conservative politicians and intellectuals helped create the kind of permissive environment where corporate scandals occurred…During the deregulation craze the government scaled back rules governing utilities, banking, telecommunications, airlines, trucking, and other industries. A zeal for privatization led to more government functions being turned over to private contractors–often with few safeguards to prevent abuse. The flood of money into politics, deeply corrupting both parties, partly explains why government enforcers were sidelined during the boom. Free-market ideology explains even more.” p. 138, The Cheating Culture

Just as law reform was the only thing that fixed, and then derailed, the crises between workers and corporations in the early 1900s, so it is today, writes worker’s rights advocate Lewis Maltby, …the only answer is to change the law.Mark Twain wrote as much in 1889, in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, arguably Twain’s political manifesto:

“The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect from winter, disease, and death. To be loyal to rags, to shout for rags, to worship rags, to die for rags–that is a loyalty of unreason…it belongs to monarchy, was invented by monarchy; let monarchy keep it.

I was from Connecticut, whose Constitution declares, “that all political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their benefit…”


*If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to my blog for just $1.50/month.

The Man Behind the Curtain

kim davisAs my husband and I discussed the news about Rowan County Kentucky clerk, Kim Davis, who refused to obey the law she vowed to uphold as an elected government official, two main thoughts popped into my head.

      First, it is a complete travesty of government that she could not be fired for failure to do her job, due to various administrative red-tape-hoopla that makes my head swim. It should not be so difficult or expensive or time-consuming to ensure hired officials do the jobs they promised to do.

The average American has little to no job security, and can be fired at the drop of a hat with or without cause, the employee may never know. Yet Kim Davis, as are all other elected officials, maintain not only a high salary but pretty stable job security, even when they refuse to do their job! Bernie Sanders, let’s get on this.


Second, most of the media attention and public comments went toward Davis, her personal beliefs, her hypocritical stance as an elected government official who wanted to keep her salary and her morals, her arrest, her “martyrdom”, and release. A few online news sources hit upon the topic of Davis’ beliefs and where those come from, including the general practices of the denomination she adheres to, Apostolic Pentecostalism. My concern though, was with the “man behind the curtain”, the one pulling her strings and teaching her what to do, and coaching her on what to say. After all, by her own claim, Davis had only been “born again” 4 years earlier. I tried looking up who Kim Davis’ pastor was, and did find his name.

Daniel Carter is the senior pastor of Rock Solid Apostolic Church in Moorehead, KY, and has only made one
public statement to date, through Christian News Network. In this interview, he talks a lot about the constitutional rights of Mrs. Davis being stolen because “she was in jail because she stood by her convictions”. I don’t suppose it ever dawned on Pastor Carter that abortion-clinic bombers likewise go to jail for the same reasons, that terrorists go to jail for standing by their convictions, that lots of people who do wrong do so with sincere beliefs in their own righteousness.

Kim Davis put herself in a compromising situation, promised to uphold the law of Kentucky, then promptly broke a law, knowingly, willingly, joyfully. Kim Davis has a right to her beliefs, she does not have the right to obstruct the law. Without the ability to fire her, without her willing resignation, the judge who held her in contempt was absolutely correct to do so.

Still, what is more telling than all the demonstrations, lawsuits, media coverage, and public commentary, is simply this: Sr. Pastor Daniel Carter has gone silent as has his church. The church’s website has been shut down for days, maybe weeks. The church phone is not receiving calls. The Christian News Network article states,

“[Pastor Carter] made it clear that he did not want to the discuss the church’s teachings or beliefs, nor Kim Davis herself, and rather desired to accentuate the freedoms that all Americans are losing.“Kim Davis doesn’t want this to be about her. This is about freedom of religion in this country,” Carter said. “This is not about our church. This is not about any church. This is not [even] about Christianity.”

But of course it is, Pastor Cater! This issue solely concerns your teachings and beliefs. Those are the entire reason Kim Davis and her actions were brought to the spotlight to begin with. I am certain Pastor Carter knows all this however, so what is he trying hide?

*If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to my blog for just $1.50/month.


Sources (In order of appearance):

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-kim-daviss-apostolic-christian-church-is-all-about_55f09c7be4b093be51bd6800

http://christiannews.net/2015/09/09/kim-davis-pastor-breaks-silence-she-was-robbed-of-her-constitutional-rights/

http://www.apostolic-churches.com/pages/Morehead—Solid-Rock-Apostolic-Church-6458.html