Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/37

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
27
THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK.

who, to secure as much, have heretofore been compelled to toil as long as strength and years would permit? The answer is, the certain prospect of emancipation from such unfavorable conditions. Thus, if eight-hours' labor will now give to an individual the subsistence or living, for the attainment of which ten, twelve, fourteen, or even more hours of labor were formerly (but not remotely) necessary, intelligent self-interest would seem to dictate to him to work eight hours on account of subsistence, and then as many more hours as opportunity or strength will permit; and out of the gain for all such work not required by necessity, purchase his emancipation from toil before age has crippled his energies; or, if he prefers, let him surround himself as he lives, in a continually increasing proportion, with all those additional elements—material and intellectual—that make life better worth living. And, through the rapid withdrawals from the ranks of competitive labor, or the increased demand for the products of labor that would be thus occasioned, the number of the unemployed, by reason of lack of opportunity to labor, would be reduced to a minimum. And that these possibilities are already recognized and accepted by not a few of the great body of workers, is proved by the fact that the greater the opportunity to work by the piece, and the greater the latitude afforded to workmen to control their own time in connection with earnings, the greater the disinclination to diminish the hours of labor.[1] "No man," says a distinguished American, who from small beginnings has risen to high position, "ever achieved eminence who commenced by reducing his hours of labor to the smallest number per day, and no man ever worked very hard and attained fortune who did not look back on his working days as the happiest of his life."[2]

  1. A recent writer, In describing certain factories in New England, where the work is mainly of this character, says: "The days are long for 'piece-work,' and the busy employes are indifferent to eight-hour rules. They reserve only light.enough to find their way home, and at twilight they take up their line of march. At present they are earning from three to five dollars per day, according to their capacity." But, as illustrating further how labor treats labor, it is added: "The employes are union men, and they will not allow a single non-unionist to work; neither will they permit any boy under sixteen, or any man over twenty-one years of age, to learn the trade."
  2. Another, whose life-experience has been similar, also thus aptly states the case: "I have often wondered how workers expect to get on upon eight hours a day. I can not do it. I have worked year after year twelve hours a day, and I know men in my vocation who have done so fourteen hours—not for eight hours' pay, but for fourteen hours' pay. Let a man who is getting day wages for day's work consider how many hours there are in the day. Suppose the day's work is even ten; allow two for meals—that makes twelve; allow nine for sleep and dressing, that makes twenty-one. There are three hours a day for getting on. That is clear profit. There is room for more profit to himself in those three hours than the profit to the employer on the ten hours of his working day. Three hours a day is eighteen in the week—nearly the equivalent of two clear days in the week, a hundred days in the year."