Once capital began to dislodge the traditional moorings of society, the bourgeoisie sought every possible opportunity to engage people in produc- tive work that would turn a profit for employers. Accordingly, classical political economists advocated actions to shape society around the logic of accumulation in order to strengthen the dependency on wage labor.
In the utopia of early classical political economy, the poor would work every waking hour. One writer suggested that the footmen of the gentry could rise early to employ their idle hours making fishing nets along with ‘‘disbanded soldiers, poor prisoners, widows and orphans, all poor trades- men, artificers, and labourers, their wives, children, and servants’’.
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Joseph Townsend proposed that when farm workers re- turned in the evenings from threshing or ploughing, ‘‘they might card,
they might spin, or they might knit.’’ Many were concerned that chil- dren’s time might go to waste. William Temple called for the addition of four-year-old children to the labor force. Anticipating modern Skinnerian psychology, Temple speculated, ‘‘for by these means, we hope that the rising generation will be so habitu- ated to constant employment that it would at length prove agreeable and entertaining to them.’’ Not to be outdone, John Locke, often seen as a philosopher of liberty, called for the commencement of work at the ripe age of three.