Seventh Grader Montrose Ballard's Essay "Why Business Men Demand Abstinence on the Part of Their Employees." Montrose was a student at South Main Street School in High Point, 1916
When one man employs another in any capacity whatever, his first thought is efficiency because every one wants the maximum amount of work for the least amount expended and it is a well known fact that one addicted to intoxicants is usually physically unfit for any position requiring an active brain and steady nerve.
Medical experts have proved beyond a doubt that intoxicants dull the brain, make the nerves unsteady, quicken the heart action, thus overworking that important organ, and affect the eyesight, often causing total blindness.
An employer demands abstinence on the part of his employees because he wants men whom he can trust, men who will do their best to carry out his wishes without having to have someone stand over them with a goad-stick.
They want sober men because they want honest men who would steal neither time nor money, if they had the opportunity, and it is only among men of intemperate habits that thieving and dishonesty are found.
Neither do business men want employees who smoke. A visit to any manufacturing plant will prove this, for one of the first things to greet the eye is a sign which reads "Notice--No Smoking Allowed." Why is smoking prohibited? In the first place, the owners realize the danger to their buildings, from the match carelessly thrown aside after lighting the pipe or cigarette, and often from the partially burned cigarette.
Pick up almost any paper giving an account of a fire (and they nearly all do) and how often do we see this, "The fire is thought to have been caused by some one carelessly throwing aside a lighted match or the stub of a cigarette."
And again it affects the nervous system as badly if not worse than whiskey, making a complete wreck of the victim, causing early death or insanity.
Circus managers, always looking out for something out of the ordinary secure these poor emaciated wrecks, who have puffed the deadly "coffin tack" so long that the public is willing to pay to see the human monstrosity called the "Cigarette Fiend."
No business man with the right spirit, and with the proper amount of pride in his business would care to have his associates know that his work was done by a lot of immoral and physical wrecks, such as whiskey and tobacco make of men.
Imagine walking into your bank to transact some business and being confronted by one of the employees with red face and blood-shot eyes and a (hic) in his voice. You would not wait until you got home to telephone the directors what you thought of them. No you'd change your place of business before going home.
Suppose on going into a store, a clerk starts toward you, but staggers around and finally falls, at the same time emitting fearful oaths. You would not wait or care to see whether he ever got up or not, and if all the clerks were like that you would never go into that store again. Or if he was the only one you would not hesitate to ask the owner to discharge him.
Again, prospective business men like to see their employees prosper and they know that any man who spends his money for drink will never prosper, but on the contrary, let a prosperous man begin drinking and before he realizes it himself, he is a pauper. If it were only what he spent for his whiskey this would not be so, but one vice leads to another and the first think he knows he is gambling and then betting on the races and so on down until he dies from delirium tremens, or takes his own life.
Then think of the loss in money, spent for whiskey or tobacco.
Why, if the money wasted in the United States for these two evils alone was spent in arming and equipping our army and navy, we would have no cause whatever to fear an invasion from any one country or countries combined.
But alas! all these precious dollars go to quench the thirst, and satisfy the inordinate craving for whiskey and tobacco, while thousands of helpless children beg for bread and while other thousands toil in sweatshops in order that their fathers may have their daily glass of rum. And Uncle Sam tries to wage war with the pen instead of the sword.
Visit the jails, the chain-gangs, the penitentiaries, ask the poor wretches why they are there. In nearly every case they will tell you that whiskey started them on the downward road.
Trace the origin of all the great disasters of the world and in almost every instance, whiskey has been the direct or indirect cause.
Take the case of the "Titanic", for instance. They were drinking, dancing and making merry, deluded into the belief that no harm could come to them. Had each officer and sailor been sober and on his job, that dreadful disaster would never have happened, with its attending loss of life and prosperity.
Railroad officials want men with active brains, and clear vision to run their trains in order to avoid wrecks which cause them so much loss in destroyed property and damage suits.
Who would care to enter a passenger train, even for a short distance, knowing that the man at the throttle was under the influence of whiskey?
May the day soon come when employers shall demand total abstinence on the part of their employees, both during and after working hours.