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Holly Johnson: George Hormel’s ideas for a better business environment

I ended last week’s column with a strong proclamation by George Hormel that business leaders in America should be working toward a plan that would give rise to renewed economic progress in this country.

George suggested that the United States was at that time “about the only nation in the history of the world that has approached a standard of decency and comfort for the common people, and it would be a high crime against humanity if in any way we were to restrict the genius and ability of our people to continue their progress.”

He knew that the quality of life of the working man had direct impact on the quality of the product they produced, and, therefore, the success of a business depended on the success of its laborer.

George’s ideas included:

1.  A uniform work week reducing the standard number of hours so as to provide employment for all who are able and willing to work.

2. A uniform minimum base wage which will protect the scale of living that thus heretofore had been attained.

3.  A suitable old age pension on a sound, practical basis by exacting a small tax or premium from each pay check, plus a State and Federal appropriation.

4.  His fourth point indicated the need to protect American made products so as to support American workers.

In the article, George then explained how the implementation of compulsory education laws impacted the work force.  In his youth and during his days working in Chicago, George saw children being forced to work long hours for little pay.  When it became unlawful to employ children under the age of 16, the number of high school and university students increased, leading to a better educated youth.

It seemed logical to George that providing more and better education for the masses would lead to new developments in industry, innovation and creativity, and ultimately to more jobs, both common and skilled.  He wrote that “new inventions would always create new industries, raise the standard of living and take up the surplus workmen thrown out by labor-saving machines.”

George did not have the opportunity to receive a formal education past the age of 12, but he did recognize the value of such for both the individual and the nation.  It was his opinion that “we would not be enjoying many of the material blessings of today [1935] were it not for the advanced education of our people.”

Upcoming Events

History’s Sweet Reads Book Discussion, Week 4

5-6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 5

The Open Road, Autobiography of George A. Hormel, sponsored by the Hormel Historic Home and Sweet Reads Book Store

Join in person or virtually. All sessions recorded so participants can join at any time.  Pre-registration required on website or by calling the Hormel Historic Home. $5 per session or $45 for whole series. Register at www.hormelhistorichome.org

Lillian’s Table Culinary Hospitality Series, Week 1

10 – 11 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 8

This edition will feature four online cooking demonstrations led by the Primrose Retirement Center team.  Please register to receive the link to the Zoom event.  Recipes and instructions will be provided.

History Happy Hour – In Person

6, p.m., Monday, October 12

The “Feedsack Story”, Presented by Yvonne Cory

Hear about a women’s role in taking the use of mundane pieces of cloth to a whole new height through the war years, factory labor, and hardships.

Masks required and space limited.  Please call to reserve your spot.

A pre-package snack will be provided.

Free for members of the HHH, Mower County Historical Society and Friends of the Library.  $5 for non-members.