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The Child Labor Laws and those Gosh Darn Illegal Aliens

Once more, the British Parliament has created a feather bed for the working children of the British labor force. Back in 1819 the Utopian industrialist (and future socialist) Robert Owen, limited children's work hours to 12-hour days and 9-year-olds could not be hired at all! (What is this world coming to?) Now a new law limits 13-year-olds to 9 hour days! (Are we raising loafers?) Everyone is required to wash their hands and face twice a day to prevent the spread of disease, and education is to be provided to fill in all those extra hours the kids have: at least 2 hours a day, 6 days a week. Medical experts recommend an extended lunch hour for the health of the children.[1] (The current lunch "hour" is 45 minutes.) Most importantly, 4 government inspectors have been hired specifically to enforce the law along with many assistant inspectors to help them. Before this time, enforcement consisted of local officials reasoning with factory owners. (In a modern context, this would be like hiring gang members to stop drug dealers. It might work... uh... no. Probably not.) Now a professional PAID factory enforcement team has been established. Things are looking brighter. Soon 10-year-olds will be forbidden to work in the mines. (Yikes!) [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
You can see how socialism got rolling. Working conditions during the emerging Industrial Age were hideous. Even the most libertarian-minded people of the modern day would be tempted to meddle with the labor laws under such conditions. With the new threshing machines killing jobs on the farm, people moved to the cities. But that meant kids could no longer contribute to food production or spinning wool. They naturally gravitated to the textile mills. If a young girl was reasonably well-educated, she might become a shop-girl. If you couldn't support yourself, you were sent to the public workhouse. In America, those who could not pay their debts went to prison... or Tejas. The Mexican government paid good money for A LIMITED NUMBER OF CATHOLIC SETTLERS to work the land, but that was a mistake. Too many white illegal aliens were crossing the border. (Those gosh darn white people were nuthin' but trouble!) That sounds funny, but it's true. The Texas Revolution probably would have happened any way, but illegal aliens from southern states like Louisiana were a disruptive force. [5] [6]

Banking on Disaster

Andrew Jackson won his bid for a second term as President promising to rid the country of the Second Bank of the United States. If you will recall, the First Bank was chartered by Alexander Hamilton, who used the bank to control the money supply and to provide a means for the US government to pay off its war debt. However, the Jeffersonian vision of government did not include banks. Jefferson believed that bankers were dishonest people whose only aim was to keep farmers in their grip and squeeze. So when it came time to renew the bank's charter, the Jeffersonian republicans let it lapse... right before the War of 1812. As the need for ready cash soared to meet the needs of war, President Madison scrambled to set up another bank. Thus in 1818, the Second Bank of the United States was established. Unfortunately, the bank president was an idiot, so during the Panic of 1819, Andrew Jackson almost lost his farm. Jackson doesn't forget old wounds. The current Federal bank president. Mr. Biddle, is competent, but he is also a bit of a wheeler-dealer. Jackson can smell something bad, so he tries to withdraw all the money from the bank (ALL THE MONEY!) He declares the bank unconstitutional and pays off the entire national debt... every last penny with money to spare, but not before Mr. Biddle tries to brings down the house. President Jackson will avoid most of the consequences of his actions. The Federal banking system will be turned over to the states in 1837, just in time for Jackson's successor, Martin Van Buren, to take one for the team. Several banks will fail. As cash liquidity dries up and the economy grinds to a halt, wildcat banks will spring up "out there amongst the wildcats." Unregulated (and probably non-existent) banks will set up for the needs of the moment and then fade away. For years to come, very few financial instruments will be more worthless than a federal note. [7] [8] [9] [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Was this all Jackson's fault? No, but like most people of the time, he didn't understand how banking works. If for no other reason, a Federal bank is required to regulate the massive spending that a government the size of the USA engages in (even in Jackson's time). Collecting enough cash to buy pencils for the federal government can tie up money for long periods of time, and then suddenly dump large amounts of cash into the market to make the purchase. The pencil market would go into a frenzy to meet the demand and then collapse utterly. Don't even ask about the eraser market. Some sort of banking system is needed that can hold tax funds and parcel them out in a sensible, and generally non-disruptive fashion. Providing loans to state banks in the meantime, would help regulate the money supply and if it is done prudently, would help the economy over most short-term problems. But wait. What am I talking about? It's the GOVERNMENT! Forget I said anything. I lost my head. I'm saying that a Federal banking system is needed for a large economy such as the USA, but it needs to be revisited periodically. Setting a time limit on the renewal of the charter didn't work for us before. Maybe there is no way for a Federal banking system to work without a lot of suffering, and crying and gnashing of teeth. It's just too much money. Maybe limiting government obligations to an amount that the CURRENT LIVING taxpayers could conceivably repay makes sense. But again... it's the government.

In Other News

  • The Barlow Lens is invented. It increases magnification and corrects the focal point of colors for precise viewing. It will remain a popular lens into the modern day. [11] [12]
  • General Santa Anna overthrows Mexico's President Bustamante. Hooray!! For a while it looks like he will restore constitutional government to Mexico, but no such luck. [13]
  • The American Whig Party is established as real Party politics begin. Henry Clay and Daniel Webster unify their Party against the Democrats and Andrew Jackson. Eventually, the Whigs will be replaced by the Republican Party under Abraham Lincoln. [3] [14]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1833, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. "Medical Science and Physical Education in Industry". British Journal of Industrial Medicine (BMJ) 3 (1): 27-39. January 1946. http://www.austinlibrary.com:2138/stable/27720569. 
  2. Factory Acts - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 January 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 398-399. 
  4. Mandler, Peter (March 1984). "Cain and Abel: Two Aristocrats and the Early Victorian Factory Acts". The Historical Journal (Cambridge University Press) 27 (1): 83-109. http://www.austinlibrary.com:2138/stable/2639343. 
  5. Alex Shrugged notes: Many of my un-cited comments come from my memory of previous history segments and my reading of Amity Shlaes's book, "Coolidge" and her description of Coolidge's early life on the family farm.
  6. Shlaes, Amity. Coolidge. Harper. ISBN 9780061967559. 
  7. Second Bank of the United States - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 22 July 2016. “The efforts to renew the bank's charter put the institution at the center of the general election of 1832, in which the bank's president Nicholas Biddle and pro-bank National Republicans led by Henry Clay clashed with the 'hard-money' Andrew Jackson administration and eastern banking interests in the Bank War. Failing to secure recharter, the Second Bank of the United States became a private corporation in 1836, and underwent liquidation in 1841.”
  8. Nicholas Biddle (banker) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 22 July 2016. “In September 1833, Taney helped transfer the public deposits from the Bank to seven state-chartered banks. Faced with the loss of the Federal deposits, Biddle decided to raise interest rates and deliberately induce a recession. A mild financial panic ensued from late 1833 to mid-1834. Meanwhile, Biddle and other Bank supporters attempted to renew the Bank's charter though the Congress on numerous occasions. All their attempts failed under the threat of a Jackson presidential veto.”
  9. John Steele Gordon. Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power, An. HarperCollins. ISBN 0060093625. 
  10. Alex Shrugged notes: My comments come from a reading of John Steele Gordon's book "Empire of Wealth," but don't assume that my comments reflect his position on the subject. I read the book and other books. I have my own ideas on the subject and out came this history segment. Your mileage may vary. Gordon's book is a good read, but it tends to be too optimistic.
  11. Peter Barlow (mathematician) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 20 October 2015. “In collaboration with optician George Dollond Barlow worked on achromatic lenses for telescopes. First (1827–32) with liquid carbon disulfide as an optical element between glass lenses, and later (1833) with flint-and-crown-combinations. A derivative of this work is still known today as the Barlow lens and is a widely used piece of astronomical equipment.”
  12. Barlow lens - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 22 July 2016. “Since the magnification provided by a telescope and eyepiece is equal to the telescope's focal length divided by the eyepiece's focal length, this has the effect of increasing the magnification of the image.”
  13. Texas History Timeline. Texas State History Museum (2016). Retrieved on 19 July 2016. “General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna led a successful revolt against President Bustamante. Texans were initially okay with this development because of Santa Anna's support for the Constitution of 1824, which was very similar to the U.S. Constitution. However, Santa Anna nullified the 1824 Constitution in favor of a more centralized government and was no longer supportive of Texas self-rule.”
  14. Whig Party (United States) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 22 July 2016. “It originally formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson (in office 1829–37) and his Democratic Party. In particular, the Whigs supported the supremacy of Congress over the Presidency and favored a program of modernization, banking and economic protectionism to stimulate manufacturing. It appealed to entrepreneurs and planters, but had little appeal to farmers or unskilled workers.”

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