Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/17

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7
THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK.

could, if it would, make all men prosperous; and therefore should, in some way not yet clearly defined by anybody, arbitrarily intervene and effect it. And this feeling, so far as it assumes definiteness of idea and purpose, constitutes what is called "socialism."[1]

The following additional results—industrial and social — which have been attendant upon the world's recent material progress are also worthy of consideration by all desirous of fully comprehending the present economic situation, and the outlook for the future.

Advance in Wages.—The average rate of wages, or the share which the laborer receives of product, has within a comparatively recent period, and in almost all countries—certainly in all civilized countries—greatly increased. The extent of this increase since 1850, and even since 1860, has undoubtedly exceeded that of any previous period of equal duration in the world's history.

Mr. Giffen claims as the result of his investigations for Great Britain, that "the average money-wages of the working-classes of the community, looking at them in the mass, and comparing the mass of fifty years ago with the mass at the present

  1. 0.68 of a cent in 1885), which have reduced the prices of the common articles of food to the masses to the extent of substantially one half, did not involve in their conception and carrying out any idea of benefiting humanity; but on the contrary those immediately concerned in effecting the improvements that have led to such results, never would have abated the rates to the public, but would have controlled and maintained them to their own profit, had they been able. But, by the force of agencies that have been above human control, they have not only not been able to do so, but have been constrained to promptly accept business at continually decreasing rates, as a condition of making any profit for themselves whatever. And what is true of the results of improvements in the transportation of products is equally true of all methods for economizing and facilitating their production. They are all factors in one great natural movement for continually increasing and equalizing abundance.

  2. On this point the Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the State of Connecticut, in his report for 1887, speaks as follows: "Necessary wants have multiplied, and society demands so much in the style of living that the laboring-man finds it almost impossible to live as respectably now on his wages as his father did thirty years since upon his. That is, wages have not kept pace with the increasing wants and style of living demanded by society. The laborer thinks be sees a wider difference between the style in which his employer lives and the way he is compelled to live, than existed between employer and employes thirty years ago. He thinks that this difference is growing greater with the years. Now, as a man's income is, in general, measured by his style of living, he can not resist the conclusion that a larger share of the profits of business goes to his employer than employers received in former years; that the incomes of employers have increased more rapidly than the wages of employes. The laboring people are fully alive to the fact that modern inventions and the like make larger incomes possible and right. They do not complain of these larger incomes, but they do believe most profoundly that they are not receiving their fair share of the benefits conferred upon society by these inventions and labor-saving machines. In this belief lies the principal source of their unrest."