In the media today, we keep hearing from the so-called experts on topics such as the economy, foreign policy, job creation, and global warming – two words which when combined have been banned in two states. People don’t like change. In fact, many people will do and say anything and everything they can to prevent any change even if it’s for the overall good of humanity. But in reality, things never really change that much. Looking back 100 or 150 years, then, as now, there were hotly debated questions about major changes in America.
The following quotes could very easily have come from special interest and political action groups in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s:
“The need for indoor bathrooms is totally unfounded. Why anyone would want to keep a room just for their waste activities is a complete mystery. This is unfair to anyone who does not have indoor plumbing because sewer systems must now be expanded. There should be a fee levied on anyone with an indoor lavatory to offset the additional costs of upgrading the local sewer systems.” Signed the Outhouse and Chamber Pot Makers of America.
“We will fight the use of Federal monies for road building in this country. Your tax dollars should be used to improve horse troughs and railroads only. Horses don’t need paved roads and the railroads already have their lines set up. These forms of transportation support a large workforce and there is no reason why those hard working people should have their jobs endangered just because the general public wants to get places faster and more efficiently.” Signed by the International League of Wagon Builders, Wheelwrights, and Farriers
“Petroleum is not the future. Turning petroleum into gasoline and oil products is not only costly, but is dangerous because it is so highly combustible. Just the slightest mistake and gasoline will explode. The money being put into developing oil fields and refineries should be invested in planting more trees, building lumber mills, and training the wood professionals our great country will need in the coming decades. Wood provides heat for America. Wood cooks America’s food. It is wood that builds America’s houses and other structures. America runs on wood and always will. Stop wasting our tax dollars on this ridiculous petroleum business.” Signed by the Fraternal Brotherhood of Lumberjacks, Mill Workers, Carpenters, and Forest Tenders.
“This country is ready for change! For too long, the do-gooders and those with a social conscience have been trying to run this country. This is our country and, as is the right of our prominent and distinguished group, we will take back and lead this country in the Great Profit Crusade. Why should we sit back and let these employees bleed us dry because they can’t find a way to live on the wages we pay them. They can tighten their belts. Healthcare? Only sloppy workers who are not careful need health benefits. Unemployment is demanded by those who just don’t want to work. We can fire them for any reason we want and, if we do, they can just go find another job. They actually want Saturdays and Sundays off. They want the right to work less than the 70, 80, or 90 hours a week we require. And they want us to not hire children. Child labor is a major source of profit for us because we can pay them even less than adults. And profit is what drives America. No. We will not stand for this. Workers should be happy we even give them jobs at all. How dare they want to dictate the work rules?” Signed by the National Association of Mine Owners, Bankers, Railroad Tycoons and Industrialists.
“This is an invasion by both state and federal government entities to impose their rules on law-abiding, local entrepreneurs. We serve a very important role in towns and cities across America. We been at our trade for hundreds of years. We have never had to worry about things like training and certification. So why do we now? Because the administrators in Washington and certain state capitals are trying to control all aspects of our lives. These bureaucrats, these government insiders, these lifelong politicians want to turn this country into a dictatorship. A monarchy. They want to take away our right to work where we want whenever we want. We will not stand for this and will fight it with every resource we have. America belongs to the American people; not the demagogues in Washington.” Signed by the American Society of Barbers, Dentists, Physicians, and Leech Growers.
“Give women the right to vote? Why they wouldn’t even begin to have any idea how to decide who to vote for, what issues are important, or even know how to cast a ballot. They belong in the home taking care of the house and the children, mending clothes, and having dinner prepared for their hard working husbands. They should be happy to have a good man to take care of them. That and their love of God is all they should be thinking about. Just think. If they got the vote, next they would want the right to divorce or to work outside the home. Can you imagine the chaos that would reign? Can you imagine how many hard working men would lose their jobs and not be able to support their families? They might even want to go to college and become lawyers or doctors or some other job that God created for men. The Negroes got the vote and that did nothing to improve the political process. Giving women the right to vote will just make things even worse. Fight women’s suffrage or it will lead to the downfall of this country.” Signed by most American men at the end of the 19th Century.
“Help wanted. No Irish, Italians or Jews need apply.” Signed by the Anglo Saxon business owners who controlled almost all businesses in the US.
So, what has changed? Nothing really.
Today we have the coal and oil industry trying to subvert solutions for global warming, pollution and mass transit. We have banks running rampant over home owners and students who, with the banks’ help, have gotten deeply in debt with no relief on the horizon. We have big companies poisoning our food supplies with GMO’s because they make a fatter profit by using them. We have politicians cutting social programs instead of raising taxes on the wealthy to support the country’s infrastructure. The Republicans, the bankers, the industrialists – essentially the oligarchy – have driven the middle class in this country to the edge of extinction. And these are just a handful of the groups fighting progress.
I hope that in a hundred years or so someone like me will be showing how today’s ludicrous doomsayers are no different from those who fought against women’s’ rights, medical oversight, and general progress at the beginning of the 20th Century.