Out of the Ashes: Then and Now
One hundred years after the Triangle Fire we are still touched by the flames.
The NY Times is running an in-depth feature, HBO aired a documentary, Remembering the Fire continues to archive and publicize the lives and deaths of workers and witnesses, and the Senate did what the Senate does best and passed a memorial resolution in remembrance of the blaze all the while seeking to cut funding for the federal agencies charged with keeping American workers safe. The contrast between heartening remembrance and dispiriting action is a reminder that moral callousness and dereliction of duty on the part of powerful people is not a novelty of early 20th century industrialism.
I’ve compiled a few quotes from the aftermathof the Triangle Fire (it takes a leap of faith to believe these things were said after the worst industrial factory fire in the history of American capitalism, but ‘tis so) and from contemporary politics. See if you can match the quote to the era:
- “Excited persons rarely accomplish anything…No new laws are needed.”
- "This act modifies the child labor laws. It eliminates the prohibition on employment of children under age fourteen. Restrictions on the number of hours and restrictions on when a child may work during the day are also removed. It also repeals the requirement that a child ages fourteen or fifteen obtain a work certificate or work permit in order to be employed."
- "The experience of the past proves conclusively that the best government is the least possible government, that the unfettered initiative of the individual is the force that makes a country great and that this initiative should never be bound…”
- "Child-labor laws…are a blow against the freedom to work and a boost in government authority over the family"
- [This package of bills is] “superfluous and entirely unnecessary and is a menace to our business.”
- "Our goal is to liberate our economy from the shackles of…excessive regulation and over-taxation."
- “I have seen children working in factories, and I have seen them working at home and they were perfectly happy.”
- “We have been legislated to death.”
- "Government has overlegislated, overregulated and overprosecuted."
- “The business men of this country who have made and saved money should no longer be supervised, criticized, or controlled by men who have neither made nor saved it.”