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Sweat Equity In America

Immigration rights demonstrators rally in downtown Los Angeles, Monday, April 10, 2006.
AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
When I was a kid — about 14 years old — my father sent me to work on the farm. It was a truck farm just outside my hometown, south of Chicago.

I worked in the fields and in the warehouse for, I think, 35 cents an hour. Maybe it was 50 cents. I just remember it wasn't close to minimum wage. But that was the deal, and there was no fighting it.

Most of the people who worked on the farm were migrants from south Texas or Mexico. They lived in shacks behind the barns. What we had in common was the hard work and lousy pay.

I'd climb on my bicycle every night and go home to my parents' house; they would repair to their hovels.

I learned a lot of lessons on that farm. One was sweat equity. If you pour sweat into a job, it belongs to you. You can take pride in it.

Watching the demonstrations of the last couple of days, I understand something from the people on the street. They feel they have sweat equity in America.


Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.
By Harry Smith