Is the Working Class Getting Soft?

100 years ago ribbonA booming economy had business leaders fretting that employees were living in luxury and the country was growing soft and spoiled

For two years hardly a champagne cork has popped east of the Alleghenies but it has been attended by a sigh over the appalling effeminacy of the Teamsters’ Union and the Amalgamated Association of Freight Handlers. Luxury has engulfed the country; but above the flood, like Noah on Ararat, we see bands of stern and impervious patriots who never think of mere creature comforts — having carefully provided themselves with a butler, a housekeeper, a valet, a lady’s maid, two footmen, four parlor maids, six chambermaids, a cook, two second cooks, and three chauffeurs to think of those base subjects for them.

The only sure way to escape being enervated by luxury in the United States, it seems, is to spend a hundred thousand dollars a year.

—“A Few Sound Spots Left,” Editorial,
March 10, 1917

This article is featured in the March/April 2017 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.