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Inter-Collegiate Debate 1913-1914 of Baker University

Inter-Collegiate Debate 1913-1914 of Baker University

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Excerpt from Inter-Collegiate Debate 1913-1914 of Baker University: The Question, Resolved: That Through Appropriate Legislation, a Minimum Wage Scale Ought to Be Put Into Operation in the United States

These speeches are fifteen minutes in length, the rebuttals six minutes, and are printed as they were given against the Nebraska Wesleyan and Washburn Universities, two of the strongest debating schools in the Middle West.

A. R. Bradley, First Affirmative.

Honorable Judges, Ladies and Gentlemen: Nations perish when their foundations crumble. Hence a question of vital concern to our laboring class must necessarily vitally concern our nation; for the great laboring class constitutes the basis of society. The wide spread interest which this question is arousing and the action which has been started in several states forces it upon the minds of the thinking public with a burning appeal. Following the example of Massachusetts nine states have enrolled on their statute books a minimum wage law. Hence, we are face to face with living progressive truths, no longer theories.

Industrial disputes are about the only form of contention in which the government does not arbitrarily compel adjustment, but even these are coming more and more under the jurisdiction of the state until at present two-thirds of our states have some form of law concerning labor and its interests. Why this increasing interest? There is a vast hord of laborers in the United States who are forced by starvation wages to exist among such sordid surroundings that they are wrecked in character and in physique, the greatest assets of a nation. In spite of the fact that through the long weary hours of toil they have produced wealth and luxury for their employers, these miserable beings are doomed to suffer for the lack of the things they themselves have created.

Slavery has not been abolished, friends, until all such disgraces as exist in our industrial world have been eradicated. All enlightened society from Massachusetts to Oregon is demanding that a remedy be found for the evil of the low wage. The fundamental principle of labor legislation is the conservation of the human resources of our nation, hence the wage question, because of what it involves, becomes one of our greatest national problems.

Ladies and gentlemen, in our presentation of the minimum wage we do not contend for some visionary adjustment which will force industry out of business and establish labor in luxury. We contend that upon no other basis than that of complete justice to both employer and employee can this question ever be settled, and it is upon such a basis that we present the minimum wage. We shall not argue that a minimum wage shall be arbitrarily fixed as a living wage, but we base our contention for a minimum as such a wage that will be just and fair to both employer and worker.

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