Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Meaning of the Eight-Hour Movement

From the 1868 pamphlet by Ira Steward:

A reduction of Hours means more than an Increase of Wages. It means a more equal and just Distribution of Wealth. For, to increase Wages, without increasing the cost of Production, is a more equal Distribution of Wealth.

A better Distribution of Wealth, means, at the same time, the gradual eradication of. Speculation, Idleness, Public Debts, Interest, Fashionable extravagance, Woman's endless Drudgery and Low wages, Prostitution, Intemperance, Corrupt Legislation, Land Monopoly, Polygamy and War.

Human life will be lengthened, less time will be lost in attending the sick, woman will become far more healthy, as well as beautiful, and men, as well as women, will be placed more upon their good behavior.

Amusements will be made to- "serve to second too some other use."

Wealth will increase, while Capitalists as we now understand them will be known no more forever; for the Laborer and the Capitalist will be One! Beyond the power or the necessity, at present, of the imagination to conceive, are the blessings, without number, which will grow up among us, when we turn our footsteps in this direction...."


Daniel Becker said...

Considering this thread and your Chapman thread, are you familiar with Jeffrey Kaplan's article in the Orion Magazine? A reprint is here:

In it is the mention of the Kellogg's company flurtation with a 6 hour work day. "To be sure, Kellogg did not intend to stop making a profit. But the company leaders argued that men and women would work more efficiently on shorter shifts, and with more people employed, the overall purchasing power of the community would increase, thus allowing for more purchases of goods, including cereals."

The summary as I read it is that we have taken all the increase in productivity and used it to not actually improve our lives with more free time to become more of a person but to produce more to buy more. The rat race.

Also, yes, labor is the none discussed elephant in the room of our crapped out economic situation.

Sandwichman said...


Yes, I mentioned the Kaplan article back in June. Also, a lot of what he wrote about came from Ben Hunnicutt's books, Kellogg's Six Hour Day and Work Without End: Abandoning Shorter Hours for the Right to Work. Ben and I were on the board of Take Back Your Time.