(L30) Government Intervention and Child Labor

1.) “Government must intervene in the economy to bring about improved working conditions.”

Government intervention in the economy, while forcing certain standards upon workplaces, does more harm than good. For example, say the government forced every business to have an AC system in the building. While workers would be more comfortable at work, there would be a great decrease in the number of people employed because the costs of maintaining AC have cut into the employers ability to pay workers. In the free market however, businesses with AC would pay their workers slightly less than those businesses without. This would be a trade off between comfort and pay that workers would have the choice to make, rather than having a decision made for them and suffering job loss because of it. It is also probable that government mandates on this sort of thing would cause small businesses to shut down, paving the way for corporations. This is also known as a state granted monopoly. (This example is more relevant to when air conditioning was relatively new, and much more expensive than it is now. Today AC is more common than not, and businesses without AC are forced to catch up to this standard by their own accord in order to compete with companies that offer more comfortable work environments.)

2.) What has been the most significant contributing factor to the abolition of child labor?

The most significant contributing factor to the abolition of child labor can be observed as happening during the 1832 Report of the Select Committee on the Bill for the Regulation of Factories. It was at this committee meeting that the testimony covering child labor was twisted, and rather than having both sides of the situation presented, factory critics were the only people heard from. These stories, being unrivaled with stories of supporters, left impressions that were to change the course of the future forever. Clark Nardinelli, author of The Industrial Revolution and Child Labor, stated that these horror stories remain the “basic indictment of child labor in early industrial Britain”.