"One of those dysfunctional periods came at about the turn of the last century, when McKinley was president, corrupt robber barons ran Congress, and the latter-day version of 'strict constructionists' ruled the courts. 'Laissez faire' capitalism ruled, and America was functionally an oligarchy. Squeezed out were the working people: the average workweek was 80 hours, there were no weekends, no vacation, only a few holidays, and the barest minimum of pay. Benefits and health care were unheard of. Child labor was the rule.
"What happened between then and now? 'Progressives' began agitating for better working conditions, and began organizing as labor unions. After a long period of violent repression, these reforms gradually became government policy - especially in the 1930s under FDR. Americans began getting 40-hour work weeks with weekends off, paid vacations and benefits."
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