Digby has a long post about the real working conditions in the 19th
and early 20th
century called: Nostalgia
It is really annoying when people who have made no effort to study history claim to know all about the way things were back in the "good old days".
Those who see social programs as a liberal conspiracy might be shocked to learn that sick pay and medical benefits programs were first instituted by that "lefty radical" Otto Fürst von Bismarck-Schönhausen, Chancellor of the German Reich at the end of the 19th
century. The reason for this "bleeding heart liberal" to create these programs was the reality that 90% of German workers were not in good enough physical shape to be drafted into the military. Britain soon followed Bismarck's lead for the same reason. Nine out of ten factory workers too sick or exhausted to meet minimum requirements for the draft should give people a pretty good idea of what their living conditions were like.
Social Security is a form of national security program. It is also interesting that medical insurance was seen as the most pressing need of the workers. Unemployment insurance soon followed. Public schools were instituted in the United States to provide educated workers for industry as well as "cannon fodder".
People forget that Herbert Hoover expected private charities to deal with the effects of the Great Depression
. As we know now, they couldn't do it, so the government had to take up the slack. I don't mind trying new ideas, but I really resent ignorant people suggesting we try old ideas that we already know failed. Supply-side tax cuts didn't work for Ronald Reagan and they are not working for George W. Bush. How many times must they be tried before these idiots learn they are a failure?