Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/464

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448
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

consequences as in the case of wheat. On the great wheat-fields of the Territory of Dakota, where machinery is applied to agriculture to such an extent that the requirement for manual labor has been reduced to a minimum, the annual product of one man's labor, working to the best advantage, is understood to be now equivalent to the produc- tion of 5,500 bushels of wheat. In the great mills of Minnesota, the labor of another one man for a year, under similar conditions as regards machinery, is in like manner equivalent to the conversion of this unit of 5,500 bushels of wheat into a thousand barrels of flour, leaving 500 bushels for seed-purposes; and although the conditions for analysis of the next step in the way of results are more difficult, it is reasonably certain that the year's labor of one and a half men more or at the most two men employed in railroad transportation, is equivalent to putting this thousand barrels of flour on a dock in New York ready for exportation; where the addition of a fraction of a cent a pound to the price will further transport and deliver it at almost any port of Europe.*

Here, then, we have the labor of three men for one year, working with machinery, resulting in producing all the flour that a thousand other men ordinarily eat in a year, allowing one barrel of flour for the average consumption of each adult. Before such a result the question of wages paid in the different branches of flour production and transportation becomes an insignificant factor in determining a market; and, accordingly, American flour grown in Dakota, and ground in Minneapolis, from a thousand to fifteen hundred miles from the nearest seaboard, by the labor of men paid from a dol- lar and a half to two dollars and a half per clay for their labor, is sold in European markets at rates which are determinative of the prices which Russian peasants, Egyptian "fellahs," and Indian "ryots" can obtain in the same markets for similar grain grown by them on equally good soil, and with from fifteen to twenty cents per day wages for their labor.

A great number of other similar and equally remarkable experi- ences, derived from almost every department of industry except the handicrafts, might be presented; but it would seem that enough evi- dence has been offered to prove abundantly that, in the increased con-

  • When the wheat reaches New York city, and comes into the possession of a great

baker, who has established the manufacture of bread on a large scale, and who sells the best of bread to the working-people of New York at the lowest possible price, we find that one thousand barrels of flour can be converted into bread and sold over the counter by the work of three persons for one year. Let us add to the six and a half men already named the work of another man six months, or a half a man one year, to keep the ma- chinery in repair, and our modern miracle is, that seven men suffice to give one thousand persons all the bread they customarily consume in one year. If to these we add three for the work of providing fuel and other materials to the railroad and the bnker, our final result is that ten men working one year serve bread to one thousand." Distribution of Products, Edward Atkinson.