"More Conscience for the Consumer," 1903
As the dark side of the consumer age became more generally known to Americans, some people began looking for ways to help the worker in the factory. The National Consumers' League (NCL) was one organization to which concerned people could turn. NCL investigated the conditions under which products were made. While NCL called upon its members to work for legislation and laws to protect workers, it also encouraged them to use the power they held as customers to force companies to treat their employees better. In this 1903 article, Caroline L. Hunt encourages the reader to recognize both humanity's increasing interdependency and the responsibility that comes with it.
As you read it, keep in mind the year in which this article was written. How contemporary does it sound?
- How does Father John A Ryan's idea of needs in "Christian Living" compare with Hunt's conception of a "right and reasonable life"?
- What is Hunt's solution to the problems created by consumerism? What roles does the individual play?
- In what two ways does consumerism hurt the poor?
- Would Hunt say it is possible to live "the good life" and be a responsible consumer? In what ways does this differ or not differ from Fr. Ryan's ideas?