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Historical ignorance; looking for the easy way out

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Jim Thompson

By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

There is a picture floating around Facebook. It is one of Henry Ford, and it looks like he was perhaps 50 or so at the time. The headline that goes with it is something like this, “Henry Ford, the man who introduced the 40-hour work week.”  

Below that, it says you should “boo” him.  

I weep for the younger generations. What ignorance! Henry Ford reduced the work week from 72 hours per week (six days, 12 hours per day) to 40 hours. He didn’t raise it to 40 hours. He did raise pay to $5 per day from about half of that.  

He wanted his employees to be able to afford the product they made, the Model T, and have time to enjoy it. In those days, many employees could not afford the product they made.

My mother told the story that when she graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1933, which would be in the same era, like many kids in her class, she got a job at the local shoe factory for 10 cents per hour. Then, after a month, she got a 10-percent raise to 11 cents per hour. That was 91 years ago.

Sunday school was invented in England. As originally conceived, besides Bible stories and so forth, they taught the kids to read, write and simple mathematics. Why? Because at that time, the children worked six days per week, and Sunday was their only day off.  

Sunday school meant Sunday school. It was a chance to improve a child’s knowledge of everything.

Today, we talk about kids having it easy. I don’t think it is that simple. Indeed, some kids probably do have it easy, many others have daily struggles. Some struggles are intellectual, others are physical, including hunger.

There are many adults who give up on life. We have a relative who has not worked in four years. This person’s unemployment started at the beginning of COVID-19.  

He is healthy, of working age and is not an addict (as best as we can tell). He just thinks he doesn’t need to work. He has sold property he owned for spending money and now sleeps on a friend’s couch since that has run out.

I don’t think he is the only person with this view.  

It doesn’t help that politicians are wanting to give people money without strings attached. There are plenty of people lining up to take it.  

There is a price to pay for idleness. People who have nothing to do often end up in mischief, some minor, some serious.

I don’t see too many idle people going to the library and expanding their minds; “couch potato” is the more apt description.

I will admonish you if you are a couch potato to resolve to do something. Set a schedule, and hold yourself to it. You will feel better about yourself and the world in which you live.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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