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EARTH HUNGER AND OTHER ESSAYS

that he has paid for, but which the neighbor cannot even appreciate. The inspector reports that the parent has taken the children from school at an early age, in order to put them at work for gain, that the more children he has the more he gets out of their wages for his own benefit, and that the children are exploited by their parents without any of a parent's feeling.

Next comes the "working-man." He demands that the children shall be peremptorily and absolutely forbidden to work, not in order that they may go to school, but that they may not compete with the working-man in the labor market. The parent forces the child to work for the parent's benefit, and the non-parent forces the child not to work for the benefit of the non-parent. In this contest, who defends the rights of the children? If anybody needs state protection evidently it is they, for they are being sacrificed between two selfish interests. The politician, however, asks only: Who has the most votes? and, finding that these are the non-parents, he eagerly passes a law to forbid the children to work, leaving all consequences to care for themselves.[1] The tax-payer is called upon to pay for some more inspectors to enforce this law. If the children by happy accident find their way to school, well and good; if they escape school, or are abroad and idle during half the year when school is not in session, they take to vagabondage and idleness with all its vices; for they are forbidden to work at all, as if work were in its nature a vice and not simply in its excess a harm.

The children are thus rapidly preparing as candidates for the reform school and the industrial school, once more at the expense of the tax-payer; or he is called

  1. See the report of the State Board of Education of Connecticut, 1886, on the Child Labor Law of that state.