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as it is a matter of expediency to determine what so-called "public utilities” the community shall itself own and what ones it shall leave to private or corporate ownership, securing to itself merely the right to regulate. Sometimes one course is expedient, sometimes the other.
In my own State during the last half-dozen years we have made a number of notable strides in labor legislation, and, with very few exceptions, the laws have worked well. This is, of course, partly because we have not tried to do too much and have proceeded cautiously, feeling our way, and, while always advancing, yet taking each step in advance only when we were satisfied that the step already taken was in the right direction. To invite reaction by unregulated zeal is never wise, and is sometimes fatal.
In New York our action has been along two lines. In the first place, we determined that as an employer of labor the State should set a good example to other employers. We do not intend to permit the people's money to be squandered or to tolerate any work that is not the best. But we think that, while rigidly insisting upon good work, we should see that there is fair play in return. Accordingly, we have adopted an eight-hour law for the State employees and for all contractors who do State work, and we have also adopted a law requiring that the fair market rate of wages shall be given. I am glad to say that both
measures have so far, on the whole, worked well. Of course there have been individual difficulties, mostly where the work is intermittent, as, for instance, among lock-tenders on the canals, where it is very difficult to define what eight hours' work means. But, on the whole, the result has been good. The practical experiment of working men for eight hours has been advantageous to the State. Poor work is always dear, whether poorly paid or not, and good work is always well worth having; and as a mere question of expediency, aside even from the question of humanity, we find that we can obtain the best work by paying fair wages and permitting the work to go on only for a reasonable time.
The other side of our labor legislation has been that affecting the wage-workers who do not work for the State. Here we have acted in three different ways: through the Bureau of Labor Statistics, through the Board of Mediation and Arbitration, and through the Department of Factory Inspection.
During the last two years the Board of Mediation and Arbitration have been especially successful. Not only have they succeeded in settling many strikes after they were started, but they have succeeded in preventing a much larger number of strikes before they got fairly under way. Where possible it is always better to mediate before the strike begins than
to try to arbitrate when the fight is on and both sides have grown stubborn and bitter.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has done more than merely gather the statistics, for by keeping in close touch with all the leading labor interests it has kept them informed on countless matters that were really of vital concern to them. Incidentally, one pleasing feature of the work of this bureau has been the steady upward tendency shown during the last four years both in amount of wages received and in the quantity and steadiness of employment. No other man has benefited so much as the wage-worker by: the growth in prosperity during these years.
The Factory Inspection Department deals chiefly, of course, with conditions in great cities. One very important phase of its work during the last two years has been the enforcement of the anti-sweatshop law, which is primarily designed to do away with the tenement-house factory. The conditions of life in some of the congested tenement-house districts, notably in New York City, had become such as to demand action by the State. As with other reforms, in order to make it stable and permanent, it had to be gradual. It proceeded by evolution, not revolution. But progress has been steady, and wherever needed it has been radical. Much remains to be done, but the condition of the dwellers in the congested districts has been markedly improved, to
the great benefit not only of themselves, but of the whole community.
A word on the general question. In the first place, in addressing an audience like this I do not have to say that the law of life is work, and that work in itself, so far from being a hardship, is a great blessing, provided, always, it is carried on under conditions which preserve a man's self-respect and which allow him to develop his own character and rear his children so that he and they, as well as the whole community of which he and they are part, may steadily move onward and upward. The idler, rich or poor, is at best a useless and is generally a noxious member of the community. To whom much has been given, from him much is rightfully expected, and a heavy burden of responsibility rests upon the man of means to justify by his actions the social conditions which have rendered it possible for him or his forefathers to accumulate and to keep the property he enjoys. He is not to be excused if he does not render full measure of service to the State and to the community at large. There are many ways in which this service can be rendered -in art, in literature, in philanthropy, as a statesman, as a solider,—but in some way he is in honor bound to render it, so that benefit may accrue to his brethren who have been less favored by fortune than he has been. In short, he must work, and work not only for himself, but for others. If he does not work, he fails not only in his duty to the rest of the community, but he fails signally in his duty to himself. There is no need of envying the idle. Ordinarily, we can afford to treat them with impatient contempt; for when they fail to do their duty they fail to get from life the highest and keenest pleasure that life can give.
To do our duty—that is the summing up of the whole matter. We must do our duty by ourselves and we must do our duty by our neighbors. Every good citizen, whatever his condition, owes his first service to those who are nearest to him, who are dependent upon him, to his wife, and his children; next he owes his duty to his fellow-citizens, and this duty he must perform both to his individual neighbor and to the State, which is simply a form of expression for all his neighbors combined. He must keep his selfrespect and exact the respect of others. It is eminently wise and proper to strive for such leisure in our lives as will give a chance for self-improvement; but woe to the man who seeks, or trains up his children to seek, idleness instead of the chance to do good work. No worse wrong can be done by a man to his children than to teach them to go through life endeavoring to shirk difficulties instead of meeting them and overcoming them. You men here in the . West have built up this country not by seeking to avoid work, but by doing it well; not by flinching