Saturday, June 21, 2008


by the Sandwichman

From the 1865 pamphlet A REDUCTION OF HOURS AN INCREASE OF WAGES by Ira Steward:

Many things can be done for self, family, and domicile which cost nothing but time and labor; but when done, are sure to suggest one or two things more, costing money. There is time after eight hours' labor to attend an evening concert, which adds a little to the expense, but much to the enjoyment of the family. The Smiths and Jones "and everybody" are going, "and who wants to be so different from everybody else." If these are trivial considerations to intelligent minds, they are the only ones which can be brought to bear upon the masses to tempt them to bid for higher wages. The great majority of men and women must "act like other folks." "What will people think?" or "What will people say?" is the most terrible question which they can be asked.

The expression "keeping up with the Jones" is commonly attributed (on the internet) to a comic strip of that name by Arthur Momand begun in 1913. But was the idea of "keeping up with the Joneses" original with Steward and his eight-hour theory?


Anonymous said...

«There is time after eight hours' labor»

The idea that work lasts only 8 hours is often just a dream. I know many people who are cannot afford or are not allowed to work only eight hours a day.

Myrtle Blackwood said...

Sandwichman, thanks for posting this article and link! How wonderful to be able to download such an interesting book.

I notice in the opening paragraph the writer asks: "what might have been the present condition of American democracy if there had been no race issue and its irrepressible conflict?"

I was asking myself that same question earlier in the week when I came across the story of the Oklahoma race riots of 1921 where over 300 people were killed and over 800 people admitted to hospital for injuries. The black hospitals were burnt to the ground.

According to the article, around the time of these riots the general (struggling) populace had lost faith with the governing Democrats because the party had breached important election promises. so popular support began to lean heavily toward the socialists.

Then, apparently, came the rising influence of the Ku Klux Klan.

Is there any surer way of dividing the ordinary people in their vote. To divide them on the basis of race? [I know that it is not a terribly original question or conclusion but it's now clearer to me why the United States is such an incredibly 'capitalist' country by comparison with Australia. The race and religion card seems to have been played so much more successfully.]