Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/13

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
3
THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK.

The supersedure of men by women and young persons in textile manufactories, which (as previously noticed) has occurred to such an extent in New England that certain factory towns have come to be popularly designated as "she-towns," at first thought seems deplorable. But, on the other hand, it is certain that such supersedure has been mainly the result of such a diminution of the severity of toil through the improvements in machinery, or such a greater division of labor consequent upon new methods of production, as have opened up new opportunities for employment to women, by making it possible for them to do easily work which, under old systems, required the greater strength and endurance of men; children, for example, being able to spin yarn on a "ring-frame," which men alone were able to do on a "spinning-mule." And, however such changes may be regarded from the standpoint of the male operatives, the greater opportunity afforded for continuous work at higher wages than could be readily obtained in other occupations, is probably not regarded by the women in the light of a misfortune. Experience also shows that the larger the scale on which capitalistic production and distribution is carried on, "the less it can countenance the petty devices for swindling and pilfering," and the neglect and disregard of the health, safety, and comfort of operatives, which so frequently characterize industrial enterprises on a small scale; or, in other words, the maintenance of a high standard of industrial and commercial morality is coming to be recognized by the managers of all great enterprises as a means of saving time and avoiding trouble, and therefore as an undoubted and important element of profit. And it is to these facts—the natural and necessary growth of what has been termed the "capitalistic system"—that a recent English writer on the condition of the working-classes, largely attributes the suppression of the truck (store) system, the enactment of laws limiting the hours of labor, the acquiescence in the existence and power of trade-unions, and the increasing attention to sanitary regulations; reforms that have reformed away the worst features of the condition of labor as it existed thirty or forty years ago in Great Britain.[1] The larger the concern, the greater usually the steadiness of employment, and the more influential the public opinion of the employed.

Dr. Werner Siemens, the celebrated German scientist and inventor, in a recent address at Berlin on "Science and the Labor Question," claimed that the necessity for extensive factories and workshops—involving large capital and an almost "slavish" discipline for labor—,to secure the maximum cheapness in pro-

  1. "The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844," by Frederick Engles.