Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/54

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
44
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

by modern inventions, and in a country where no economic revolution has occurred—England:[1]


Year. shillings per week.
Blacksmith. Mason. Carpenter.
1740 16 16 15
1840 21 23 20
1880 32 35 30


Thus wages are seen to have advanced about twice as much in the forty years, 1840 to 1880, as in the previous century. In the United States Mulhall gives tables (Dictionary of Statistics, page 463) showing that operatives' wages have risen from two hundred and fifty to three hundred dollars per annum in the thirty years beginning with 1850. Even during the last few years, in spite of the depression prevailing, I very much doubt if wages and salaries have, taken as a whole, declined at all, or at any rate so much as is usually supposed. Only a few days since I read in a newspaper of the city in which I live a table showing that the salaries of teachers in the public schools had had a steady average increase during the past four years; and the increase was not confined to any one year, but continued gradually through the whole period. However this may be, we can not turn to any reputable authority which does not show that a large increase of wages has occurred during the past fifty years in every civilized country. If, therefore, "gold has risen fifty per cent" in value, the working classes have had a far more wonderful advance than they or any one else supposed.

Again, real estate is one of the greatest of commodities, and if the dollar has increased in value it ought to be reflected in the fall of real estate. No such fall has, however, taken place. Farms in the United States, irrespective of cattle, implements, etc., rose from two hundred and fifty dollars per inhabitant to two hundred and eighty dollars per inhabitant during the thirty years ending in 1880[2]—a fine increase, considering the accompanying increase of population.

Another consideration is of far greater weight than any derived from a single commodity. If land rises in value, the rent increases; if money rises in value by reason of scarcity, the rate of interest advances. If, then, the combined Shylocks of the world, together with the banks, England, and Wall Street, have "demonetized silver" in order to "corner money" and boom the rate of interest, there ought to be traces of it. Singular as it may be to our silver friends, there seem to be none. In fifty years the

  1. Mulhall, Dictionary of Statistics, p. 461.
  2. Ibid., p. 9.