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Home Manufacture

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HOME MANUFACTURE Industry is good, and family life in the home is good, but under modern urban conditions they do not belong together. In the old days, before the industrial revolution of the eighteenth century, in dustry was ordinarily carried on in the home. There were no factories or factory towns. There were no mill hands or mill bosses. There was no steam or electric power. There were no railways or steamboats, now an integral part of our indus trial system. For this change we need not go back to some remote age about which we know only through legend and inference, but no further than to the time of Franklin and Washington, or even later. There are those still alive who belonged for a time to that smokeless, noiseless era when indus tries were mainly carried on within the domestic circle, although for its completeness we must travel farther back, to the time when all had a fixed status and freedom of contract had no meaning, or a very different meaning from that which modern English and American law has given it. Those times are long since gone; but we have not yet adjusted our laws, practices, and ideas to the conditions resulting from the industrial revolution—or the successive industrial revolutions, for there have been many, so many that perhaps we shall some day in a better perspective see that they are stages in a gradual evolution.

The broad fact is that the modern home is no place for manufacture. When materials are given

out to be made up, for example, in New York tenements, the result is that the family is virtually deprived of the meager space for which a relatively high rent has been paid as a home. The manu facturer may save rent by this species of very dis tinct exploitation, and that may cheapen the goods to the consumer, though again it may not. What is especially objectionable about it is that the in dustry virtually escapes that frequent and rigid inspection on which the health, safety, and comfort of workers depend. The enforcement of child labor laws, of restriction on the hours of employ ment, of sanitary regulations, are practicable in factories, but in tenements or other dwellings any such inspection and enforcement are so difficult and expensive as to be impracticable. If, therefore, we are to have standards at all for the protection of workers, it is virtually necessary to establish the principle, which at first seems rather repugnant to us, as an invasion of private affairs, that manufac turing—such industries as cigar-making, garment making, candy-making, and nut-picking—shall not be carried on in private dwellings, or at least in rooms ordinarily used as bedrooms, kitchens, or for other domestic purposes.