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Stealing Childhoods for Profit

It is shocking that in the year 2024, one must stand up and speak out against children doing dangerous or complex jobs or engage in the debate on if imposing a full work week on someone navigating school while learning/making friends/playing sports, and yes having fun, is healthy, wise or good. As children grow, they gain skills and insights in addition to what they learn from their education. This all facilitates dealing with the challenges and vagaries of life. The process is not a quick, despite the common adage that children grow up so fast, we know the human brain is not fully developed until the age of 25. It might not make companies the most profit, but they continue this 19th century practice. Meanwhile it’s important to give children this time to grow, experiment, and play.

That’s really the choice, between loving childhoods from healthy families, and squeezing another dollar in profits from an exploitable workforce. Child labor directly undercuts the bargaining power of adults, pitting desperate children and their parents in a race to the bottom. Eliminating child labor means paying adults better, for without child labor, and undocumented workers, employers can’t suppress compensation as easily. These corporations clearly feel there needs to an army of people willing to work for less and less, and they are willing to look younger and younger to find them.

Let's be real, as some unions rack up victories, others are fighting very wealthy owners.  Elon Musk, Amazon and Trader Joe's are all challenging the constitutionality of the National Labor Relations Board. Crucially, the Amazon Labor Union won two years ago, and management is still contesting what actually happened and refusing to negotiate in good faith. A flagrant disregard for labor law displayed at every turn, and yet these corporations are allowed to pay nominal fines and continue receiving lucrative government contracts.

Our government needs to stand behind it’s pro-labor proclamations by making access to the government purse strings contingent on how corporations treat their employees, as well as the larger community and environment, with the same diligence as some companies monitor bathroom breaks or punish union organizers.

To end poverty in this country, to help close the huge income chasm, there must be better pay and benefits. Healthcare, housing, transportation and food must be affordable and available.  All of our children deserve the best education, regardless of their zip code or any other factor.  If this seems impossible, study what is being done in all other industrialized nations.

One solution continues to be aggregation, as in UNIONS.  Most of this country supports labor unions while wealthy owners and management do everything to suppress any victory, as well as reversing prior advancements, like eliminating child labor. In case you didn’t click the link, that's 71% of people support labor unions.  No wonder there is an attack on education and the idea that math is too "woke." 71% is a significant majority.  (This is a PSA in case your school books have been confiscated.)

What can you do? 

VOTE.  Register and then show up. Elections matter. People at all levels of government make significant decisions.  Yes, the Presidency but also the local school board.  Who is your sheriff, or the leaders in the state legislature?  Make certain you are not purged from voting rolls.  Wait in line.  Demand your right. Find organizations to fight if your ability to make your voice heard is challenged in any way. Voting is the bedrock of our democracy.  The larger the pool of voters, the more power is diffused and equalized.  Why else are too many putting so much effort into gerrymandering, voter intimidation, and suppression.

This weekend, the Poor People's Campaign has organized 31 rallies on March 2 – in DC/ Annapolis and throughout the country. Show up!  See for yourself and demonstrate to elected officials how large and powerful we are together. Support local and unrepresented businesses.  From Wednesday to Monday, try to find what you need from your community and neighbors.  And then...Don't Shop on Tuesday. 

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