Popular Science Monthly/Volume 33/May 1888/The Economic Outlook: Present and Prospective III
|←Volume 32||Popular Science Monthly Volume 33 May 1888 (1888)
The Economic Outlook: Present and Prospective III
By David Ames Wells
|The Moral Influence of Climate→|
By Hon. DAVID A. WELLS.
ECONOMIC DISTURBANCE SERIES No. VIII.
ATTENTION is next asked to the second (assumed) cause for the prevailing discontent of labor, namely:
Changes in the character or nature of employments consequent upon the introduction of new methods — machinery or processes — which it is claimed have tended to lower the grade of labor, impair the independence, and restrict the mental development of the laborer.
That such changes have been in the nature of evil, can not be questioned; but they are not new in character, nor as extensive in number and effect as is popularly supposed. Subordination to routine and method is an essential element in all systematized occupations; and in not a few employments and professions — as in all military and naval life, and in navigation and railroad work — an almost complete surrender of the independence of the individual, and an unreasoning mechanical compliance with rules or orders, are the indispensable conditions for the attainment of any degree of successful effort. In very many cases also the individual finds compensation for subordination and the surrender of independence in the recognition that such conditions may be but temporary, and are the necessary antecedents for promotion; and routine and monotony are doubtless in a greater or less degree alleviated when the operative can discern the plan of his work as an entirety, and note its result in the form of finished products. But in manufacturing operations, where the division of labor has been carried to an extreme; where the product of the worker is never more than a fraction of any finished "whole" and where no greater demand is made upon the brain than that it shall see that the muscles of the arm, the hand, or the finger execute movements at specific times and continuously in connection with machinery, there are few such compensations or alleviations; and the general result to the individual working under such conditions can not, to say the least, be in the line of either healthy mental or physical development. Happily, however, the number of industries, in which division of labor and its subordination to machinery has been productive of such extreme results, is not very large; the manufacture of boots and shoes by modern machine methods, in which every finished shoe is said to represent sixty-two distinct mechanical employments or products, being perhaps the most notable. And yet even here there is not a little in way of compensating benefit to be credited to such a system. Thus, for example, it is stated that "the use of machinery has compelled employes to apply themselves more closely to their work; and, being paid by the piece, has enabled them to make better wages." When shoemaking was a handicraft, "the hours of labor were very irregular; the workmen, who decided their own hours of labor, working some days only a few hours, and then working far into the night for a few days to make up for lost time. It was once customary for shoemakers (in New England) to work on an average fifteen hours a day;" now the hours of labor in the shoe-factories are not in excess of ten hours. It is also claimed that the introduction of the sewing-machine into the manufacture of boots and shoes has greatly increased the opportunities for the employment of women, at better rates of wages. In the manufacture of clothing, which, in routine and monotony, is analogous to the manufacture of boots and shoes, it is generally conceded that the influence of the sewing-machine has been to increase wages, and that "notwithstanding the constantly growing use of these machines, the number of employes is greater than formerly, owing to the enlargement of the business." Furthermore, the "collective work which admits of being carried on by the factory principle of great subdivision of labor and by the bringing together of large numbers of people under one roof and one control" does not at present, in the United States, give occupation to more than one in ten of all who follow gainful occupations in the whole country; while for the other nine the essential elements of industrial success continue, as of old, to be found in individual independence and personal mental capacity; and this experience of the United States will probably find a parallel in all other manufacturing countries.
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. 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 production, "as due, to a great extent, to the yet imperfect development of the art of practical mechanics"; and that mechanical skill will ultimately effect "a return to the system (now almost extinct) of independent, self-sustaining domiciliary labor" by the introduction of cheap, compact, easily set up and operated labor-saving machinery into the smaller workshops and the homes of the workingmen. Should the difficulties now attendant upon the transmission of electricity from points where it can be cheaply generated, and its safe and effective subdivision and distribution as a motive force, be overcome (as it is not improbable they ultimately will be), thus doing away with the necessity of multiplying expensive and cumbersome machinery — steam-engines, boilers, dams, reservoirs, and water-wheels — for the local generation and application of mechanical power, there can be no doubt that most radical changes in the use of power for manufacturing purposes will speedily follow, and that the anticipations of Dr. Siemens, as to the change in the relations of machinery to its operatives, may at no distant day be realized.
The third cause which has especially operated in recent years to occasion discontent on the part of labor has been undoubtedly the increase in intelligence or general information on the part of the masses in all civilized countries.
The best definition, or rather statement, of the essential difference between a man and an animal that has ever been given is, that a man has progressive wants, and an animal has not. Under the guidance of what is termed instinct, the animal wants the same habitat and quantity and quality of food as its progenitors, and nothing more. And the more nearly man approaches in condition to the animal, the more limited is the sphere of his wants, and the greater his contentment. A greater supply of blubber and skins to the Esquimaux, more "pulque" to the native Mexican, to the West Indian negro a constant supply of yams and plantains without labor, and the ability to buy five salt herring for the same price that he has now to give for three, would, in each case, temporarily fill the cup of individual happiness nearly to repletion. And, among civilized men, the contentment and also sluggishness of those neighborhoods in which the population come little in contact with the outer world and have little of diversity of employment open to them, are proverbial. Now the wonderful material progress which has been made within the last quarter of a century has probably done more to overcome the inertia, and quicken the energy of the masses, than all that has been hitherto achieved in this direction in all preceding centuries. The railroad, the steamship, and the telegraph have broken down the barriers of space and time that formerly constituted almost insuperable obstacles in the way of frequent intercourse between people of different races, countries, and communities, and have made the civilized world, as it were, one great neighborhood. Every increased facility that is afforded for the dissemination of intelligence, or for personal movement, finds a marvelously quick response in an extended use. The written correspondence—letters and cards—exchanged through the world's postal service, more than doubled between the years 1873 and 1885; while in the United States the number of people annually transported on railroads alone exceeds every year many times the total population of the country; the annual number for the New England States being more than sixteen times greater than their population. Under these powerful but natural educating influences, there has been a great advance in the intelligence of the masses. They have come to know more of what others are doing; know better what they themselves are capable of; and their wants have correspondingly increased, not merely in respect to quantities of the things to which they have always been accustomed, but very many articles and services which within a comparatively recent period were regarded as luxuries, are now almost universally considered and demanded as necessities. At the same time, the increased power of production and distribution, and the consequent reduction in the cost of most commodities and services, have also worked for the satisfaction of these wants in such a degree that a complete revolution has been effected during recent years in the every-day life of all classes of the people of the great industrial and commercial countries. Let any one compare the condition of even the abject poor of London, as described in recent publications, with the condition of English laborers as described by writers of acknowledged authority not more than forty years ago, and he can not resist the conclusion that the very outcasts of England are now better provided for than were multitudes of her common laboring-men at the period mentioned.
But the widening of the sphere of one's surroundings, and a larger acquaintance with other men and their pursuits, have long been recognized as not productive of content. Writing to his nephew a hundred years ago, Thomas Jefferson thus concisely expressed the results of his own observation: "Traveling," he says, "makes men wiser, but less happy. When men of sober age travel they gather knowledge, but they are, after all, subject to recollections mixed with regret; their affections are weakened by being extended over more objects, and they learn new habits which can not be gratified when they return home." Again, as the former few and simple requirements of the masses have become more varied and costly, the individual effort necessary for the satisfaction of the latter is not relatively less, even under the new conditions of production, than before, and in many instances is possibly greater. Hence, notwithstanding the large advance in recent years in the average rates of wages, and their increased purchasing power, there is no less complaint than formerly of the cost of living; when (as M. Leroy-Beaulieu has pointed out in the case of France) the foundation for the complaint is for the most part to be found in the circumstance that a totally different style of living has been adopted, and that society makes conformity with such different style a standard of family respectability.
There is, therefore, unquestionably in these facts an explanation of what to many has seemed one of the greatest puzzles of the times, namely, that with greater and increasing abundance and cheapness of most desirable things, popular discontent with the existing economic condition of affairs does not seem to diminish, but rather to greatly increase. And out of such discontent, which is not based on anything akin to actual and unavoidable poverty, has originated a feeling that the new conditions of abundance should be further equalized by some other methods than intelligent individual effort, self-denial, and a natural, progressive material and social development, and that the state 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."
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 time, have increased very nearly 100 per cent. It is also conceded of this increase in Great Britain, that by far the largest proportion has occurred within the later years of this period, and has been concurrent with the larger introduction and use of machinery. Thus the investigations of Sir James Caird show that the advance in the average rate of wages for agricultural labor in England in the twenty-eight years between 1850 and 1878 was 45 per cent greater than the entire advance that took place in the eighty years next preceding 1850.
Mr. Giffen has also called attention to an exceedingly interesting and encouraging feature which has attended the recent improvement in money-wages in Great Britain—and which probably finds correspondence in other countries; and that is, that the tendency of the economic changes of the last fifty years has been not merely to augment the wages of the lowest class of labor, but also to reduce in a marked degree the proportion of this description of labor to the total mass—" its numbers having diminished on account of openings for labor in other directions. But this diminution has at the same time gone along with a steady improvement in the condition of the most unskilled laborers themselves." So that, if there had been no increase whatever in the average money-wages of Great Britain in recent years, the improvement in the general condition of the masses in that country "must have been enormous, for the simple reason that the population at the higher rate of wages has increased disproportionately to the others." But all this is only another way of proving that machinery always saves or minimizes the lowest and crudest kinds of labor. One of the most interesting and unquestionably one of the most accurate investigations respecting the change in wages since 1850, in the leading industries of Great Britain, was made in 1883 by Mr. George Lord, President of the Manchester (England) Chamber of Commerce. The results showed that the percentage increase in the average wages paid in eleven of the leading industries of that city between 1850 and 1883 was 40 per cent; the increase ranging from 10.30 per cent in mechanical engineering (fitters and turners) to 74.72 per cent in the case of other mechanics and in medium cotton spinning and weaving. In the United States, according to the data afforded by the census returns for 1850 and 1880, the average wages paid for the whole country increased during the interval of these years by 39.9 per cent; or in a slightly smaller ratio of increase than was experienced during the same period in the industries of that district of England of which the city of Manchester is the center. The figures of the United States census of 1850 can not, however, be accepted with confidence.
As respects agricultural labor in the United States, the assertion is probably warranted that, taking into account the hours of work, rates of wages, and the prices of commodities, the average farm-laborer is 100 per cent better off at the present time than he was thirty or forty years ago. In Massachusetts the average advance in the money-wages of this description of labor between 1850 and 1880 was 56 per cent, with board in addition. Between 1842 and 1846 the wages of agricultural labor in the United States sank to almost the lowest points of the century. According to the investigations of the Massachusetts Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average advance in general wages in that State from 1860 to 1883 was 28.36 per cent, while the conclusions of Mr. Atkinson are that the wages of mechanics in Massachusetts were 25 per cent more in 1885 than they were in 1860.
Taking the experience of the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis as a basis, recent investigations also show a marked increase in the average wages of all descriptions of labor in the northwestern sections of the United States, comparing 1886 with 1875, of at least 10 per cent. In all railroad-work, the fact to which Mr. Giffen has called attention as a gratifying result of recent English experience also here reappears—namely, that the proportion of men earning the highest rates of wages is much greater than it was ten years ago, or more skilled workmen and fewer common workmen are relatively employed.
A series of official statistics, published in the "Annuaire statistique de la France," respecting the rates of wages paid in Paris and in the provinces of France in twenty-three leading industries during the years 1853 and 1883 respectively, show that, during the period referred to, the advance in average wages in Paris was 53 per cent and in the provinces 68 per cent, the figures being applicable to 1,497,000 workmen out of a total of 1,554,000 ascertained to be occupied in these industries by the French census of 1876. M. Yves Guyot, the eminent French economist, is also the authority for the statement that the average daily wages of work-women in France engaged in the manufacture of clothing, lace, embroideries, laundry-work, and the like, increased 94 per cent between the years 1844 and 1872. In the cotton-mills at Mülhausen, Germany, the rates of increase in wages between 1835 and 1880 range between 60 and 256 per cent, the increase in the later years, as in other countries, having been particularly noticeable.
Accepting the wage statistics of France (and they are official), it would, therefore, appear that the rise of wages in that country during the years above reviewed was greater than was experienced in either England or the United States.
One factor which has undoubtedly contributed somewhat to the almost universal rise of wages during the last quarter of the century has been the immense progress that has been made in the abolition of human slavery—absolute, as well as in its modified forms of serfdom and peonage—which thirty years ago existed unimpaired over no inconsiderable areas of the earth's surface, and exerted a powerful influence for the degradation of labor and reduction of average wages to a minimum.
Relation of Wages to Living.—All conclusions as to the effect of changes in the rates of wages in any country are, however, incomplete, unless accompanied by data which permit of a conversion of wages into living, and these, in the case of the United States and for the period from 1860 to 1885, have been furnished by Mr. William M. Grosvenor, through a careful tabulation of the prices of two hundred commodities, embracing nearly all those in common use. From these comparisons it appears, that, if the purchasing power of one dollar in gold coin in May, 1860, be taken as the standard—or as one hundred cents' worth—the corresponding purchasing power of a like dollar in the year 1885 was 26.44 per cent greater. The artisan in Massachusetts in this latter year, therefore, could either "have largely raised the standard of his living, or, on the same standard, could have saved one third of his wages." Similar investigations instituted in Great Britain (and which had been before noticed) indicate corresponding results.
Another conclusion of Mr. Atkinson would also seem to be incapable of contravention, namely: That the greatly increased product of the fields, forests, factories, and mines of the United States which has occurred during the period from 1860 to 1885 "must have been mostly consumed by those who performed the actual work, because they constitute so large a proportion—substantially about ninety per cent—of the whole number of persons by whom such products are consumed," and that "no other evidence is needed to prove that the working man and woman of the United States, in the strictest meaning of these words, are, decade by decade, securing to their own use and enjoyment an increasing share in a steadily increasing product."
The report of the Bureau of Industrial Statistics of the State of Maine, for the year 1887, also presents some notable evidence of the continued increase in the purchasing power of wages; and show that, taking the experience of a typical American family in that State, deriving their living from manufacturing employments, as a basis, as much of food could be bought in 1887 for one dollar as would have cost $1.20 in 1882 and $1.30 in 1877; the difference being mainly due to reductions in the prices of flour, sugar, molasses, fresh meats, lard, oil, and soap.
In a paper presented to the British Association in 1886 by Mr. M. G. Mulhall, the increase in the purchasing power of money as respects commodities, and its decrease in purchasing power as respects labor in England during the period from 1880-83 as compared with the period from 1821 to 1848, was thus illustrated by being reduced to figures and quantities: Thus in 1880-'83, 117 units of money would have bought as much of grain as 142 units could have done in 1821-'48; but, in respect to labor, it would have required 285 units of money to have bought as much in 1880-83 as 201 units did in 1821-48. In respect to cattle, the purchasing power of money had decreased in the ratio of 312 in the latter to 218 in the former period; but since 1879 the carcass price of meats has notably declined in England: inferior beef upon the London market to the extent of 43 per cent (in 1885-'86); prime beef, 18 per cent; pork, 22 per cent; middling mutton, 27 per cent. It is also undoubtedly true, as Mr. John Bright has recently pointed out that meat, in common with milk and butter, commands comparatively high prices in England, "because our people, by thousands of families, now eat meat who formerly rarely tasted it, and because our imports of these articles are not sufficient to keep prices at a more moderate rate."
One point of interest pertinent to this discussion, which has for some time attracted the attention of students of social science in England and France, has also been made a matter of comment in the cities of the northwestern United States, especially in St. Paul and Minneapolis, and is probably applicable to all other sections of the country; and that is, that expenditures for rent form at present a much larger item in the living expenses of families than ever before, and for the reason that people are no longer content to live in the same classes of houses as formerly; but demand houses with all of the so-called modern improvements—gas and water and better warming, ventilating, and sanitary arrangements—which must be paid for.
Reduction in the Hours of Labor.—Concurrently with, the general increase in recent years in the amount and purchasing power of moneywages throughout the civilized world, the hours of labor have been also generally reduced. In the case of Great Britain, Mr. Giffen is of the opinion that the reduction during the last fifty years in the textile, house-building, and engineering trades has been at least 20 per cent, and that the British workman now gets from 50 to 100 per cent more money for 20 per cent less work.
In the United States, the data afforded by the census returns of 1880 indicate that in 1830, 81.1 per cent of the recipients of regular wages worked in excess of ten hours per day; but for 1880, the number so working was about 26.5 per cent. In 1830, 13.5 per cent worked in excess of thirteen hours; but in 1880 this ratio had been reduced to 2.5. For the entire country the most common number of hours constituting a day's labor in 1880 was ten.
That the conclusions of Mr. Giffen respecting the general effect in Great Britain of the increase in wages and reduction in the hours of labor, as above stated, find a correspondence in the United States, might, if space permitted, be shown by a great amount and variety of testimony. A single example—drawn from the experience of the lowest class of labor—is, however, especially worthy of record. In 1860, before the war, the average amount of work expected of spade-laborers on the western divisions of the Erie Canal, in the State of New York, was five cubic yards of earth excavation for each man per day; and for this work the average wages were seventy-five cents per day. At the present time the average daily excavation of each man employed on precisely the same kind of work, and on the same canal, is reported as three and a half cubic yards, at a compensation of from $1.50 to $2 per day.
Any review of the recent experiences, in respect to wages and hours of labor, would be imperfect that failed to call attention to the fact that the benefits from advances in the one case, and reductions in the other, have accrued mainly to operatives in factories and to artisans and skilled mechanics, and have been enjoyed in the least degree, and largely not at all, by employes, clerks, book-keepers, copyists, etc., engaged in mercantile and commercial operations and establishments. The reason of this is manifestly that the supply of this latter class of labor has been disproportionately greater than that of the former, and continually tends to be in excess of demand; and, under such circumstances, although the amount of discontent may be, and undoubtedly is, very great and well warranted, the organized and aggressive expression of it finds little sympathy on the part of the public.
The question has been asked. Why is it that wages of manual labor have been constantly rising in recent years, while all other prices have been concurrently falling? or, to put it differently, why is it that overproduction, while cheapening the product, should not also cheapen the work that produces it? The answer is, that the price of the products of labor is not governed by the price of labor, or wages, but that wages, or earnings, are results of production, and not conditions precedent. Wages, as a rule, are paid out of product. If production is small, no employer can afford to pay high wages; but if, on the contrary, it is large, and measured in terms of labor is of low cost—which conditions are eminently characteristic of the modern methods of production—the employer is not only enabled to pay high wages, but will, in fact, be obliged to do so, in order to obtain what is really the cheapest (in the sense of the most efficient) labor. The world has not yet come to recognize it, but it is nevertheless an economic axiom, that the invariable concomitant of high wages and the skilled use of machinery is a low cost of production and a large consumption. In the first of the results is to be found the explanation for the continually increasing tendency of wages to advance; in the second, an explanation why the supplanting of labor by machinery has not been generally more disastrous. If, however, it be rejoined that "the comparative poverty of cotton- and woolen-mill operatives, and of women who run sewing-machines," and the like, does not sustain the above explanations, the question is pertinent, Comparative with what? For, low and insufficient as may be the wages of all this class of operatives, they were never, in comparison with other times, so high as at present.
Impairment of the Value of Capital relatively to Labor.—While the remuneration of labor has enormously increased during recent years, the return to capital has not been in any way proportionate, and is apparently growing smaller and smaller. For this economic phenomenon there can be but one general explanation; and that is, that regarding labor and capital as commodities, or better, as instrumentalities employed in the work of production and distribution, capital has become relatively more abundant than labor, and has accumulated faster than it can be profitably invested; and, in accordance with the law of supply and demand, the compensation for its use—interest or profits—has necessarily declined as compared with the compensation paid for labor.
One efficient cause of this greater abundance of capital is, that every new invention or discovery produces always as much, and often a much greater amount, of product on a less amount of capital than was previously invested. The result of material progress is, therefore, to supplement the need, or economize the use of capital, and at the same time increase it. For example, a first-class iron freighting screw-steamer cost in Great Britain, in 1872-74, $90 (£18) per ton. In 1887 a better steamer, constructed of steel, fitted with triple compound engines, with largely increased carrying capacity, and consequent earning power, and capable of being worked at much less expense, could have been furnished for $35 (£7) per ton. How rapidly capital has accumulated in recent years under the new conditions of production is indicated by the circumstance that, although most of the great loans which have been negotiated within the last twenty-five years have been for the replacement of capital unproductively used up, or absolutely destroyed in war or military operations, and notwithstanding the immense amount of capital that has also been destroyed during the same period by the replacement of machinery contingent on new, inventions, the vacuum thus created has not only been promptly filled, but the competition for the privilege of furnishing further supplies of capital for similar purposes was never greater.
Again, as capital increases and competition between its owners for its profitable investment becomes more intense, and as modern methods can bring all the unemployed capital of the world within a few hours of the world's great centers for financial supply, the rate of profit, or interest to be obtained by the investor or lender, from this cause, also necessarily tends to shrink toward a minimum. Such a minimum will be reached "when the returns for the use of capital become insufficient to induce individuals to save it, especially in the form of its representative, money, and thus add to the available reserves by which expanding industries can be supported." And to such a minimum the financial world seems to be always moving by the force of laws which no combination of capitalists can resist. To those who are the possessors of large properties, a gradually diminishing rate of return for the use of capital makes but little difference so far as personal comforts are concerned; but to the small capitalists the steady reduction in income which has been experienced in recent years means always discomfort, and often misery. A striking illustration of this, derived from actual experience, and contingent on a reduction by the Prussian Government of the interest on its debt to 3½ and 3 per cent, is thus given by a recent correspondent (1887) of the London "Economist":
"This reduction," he says, "struck a heavy blow at the existence of what may be called the 'middle classes' in Germany—that is, the great number of people who own a small capital invested in funds, besides carrying on some business or having some other profession. The combined income from both enabled them to live in fair style, making both ends meet by way of carefully regulated expenditure. These classes have formed for over half a century the 'backbone' of Germany. They are now gradually disappearing, making room for great wealth on one side and great poverty on the other."
Decline in Land-Values.—Another interesting and curious feature of the existing economic condition—the direct outcome of the recent radical changes in the methods of production and distribution—has been the decline in the value of land over large areas of the earth's surface. Thus, in the case of Great Britain, while every other item of national wealth has shown an increase — often most extraordinary—since 1840, the estimated value of land in the United Kingdom since that date has heavily decreased. A similar experience is also reported as respects France, Germany, and Portugal. In the latter country, the owners and cultivators of the soil seem to be in a remarkably unfortunate condition. The Portuguese farmer, despite heavy protective duties, finds himself unable to successfully contend with the increased import of cereals, mainly from the United States. The olive-oil industry, formerly flourishing, is so no longer, through the alleged extensive use of American cotton-seed oil as a substitute; while the demand for Portuguese wines, which for a time was increased by the bad vintages of France, is being impaired, and possibly threatened with destruction, by the continually increasing supply in the French markets of cheaper and more suitable wines for mixing purposes from California, the Cape of Good Hope, and Australia. In addition, the copper-mines of Portugal have suffered severely in recent years from the cheaper supplies of American copper. In the Canary Islands, where the soil is most cheap and fertile, and the vegetation of both the tropic and temperate zones flourishes in great luxuriance, the land question has also become of as much importance and embarrassment as in less favored countries. The former great remunerative industry of these islands was wine, "canary"; but this, by the impairment of the vines, has become of little account. These islands also formerly furnished the world with a large supply of cochineal, for the production of which they have special advantages; but since, through the discovery and use of aniline dyes, cochineal, which was once worth $1.75 (7s.), will now command but 12 cents (sixpence), this industry has become depressed. Curiously, also, a comparatively extensive export of potatoes from these islands to the Spanish West Indies is diminishing through a competitive exportation of the same vegetable from the United States. So that there seems to be nothing left for the land proprietors and cultivators in this locality to do, except to resort to the method, so much in favor at the present time, of taxing each other for their mutual benefit! Over large portions of the West India Islands, great quantities of excellent land, advantageously situated as regards facility of communication with other countries, under exceptionally healthy climatic conditions, and much of which has been formerly under high cultivation, has been absolutely abandoned, or is in the rapid progress of abandonment. In the United States, the decline in the value of land has, in many instances, been also very notable. In the New England States at the present time, agricultural land, not remote from large centers of population, can often be bought for a smaller price than fifty years ago would have been regarded as a fair appraisal, and even less than the cost of the buildings and walls at present upon it. Since the last decennial appraisal of real estate in Ohio (in 1880) "there has been a heavy decline. Farm property is from 25 to 50 per cent cheaper to-day than it then was." "In the ten cotton States, the value of agricultural land was in 1860 $1,478,000,000; in 1880, $1,019,000,000, a decrease of $459,000,000. It would require an addition of 45 per cent of its value in 1880 to raise it to its value in 1860." Meanwhile, the population of these same States has increased 53 per cent. "In 1860, the value per acre of improved land in Georgia was $6; in 1886, below $3.50; decrease, $2.50. Were the agricultural land divided out among the people, the value per head would have been: in 1860, $150; in 1886, $63; decrease, $87."
In the foregoing series of papers an attempt has been made to trace out and exhibit in something like regular order the causes and the extent of the industrial and social changes and accompanying disturbances which have especially characterized the last fifteen or twenty-five years of the world's history. The idea adopted at the outset, and an adherence to which has subsequently been kept constantly in view, has been to relate simply but comprehensively what has happened, and thus prepare the way for a solution of the many problems of interest and importance which are the outcome of the situation, rather than attempt the more difficult and to some extent (at present) impossible task of directly formulating and offering satisfactory answers or explanations. At the same time the presentation of whatever in the way of deduction from the record of experience has seemed legitimate and likely to aid in the determination of correct conclusions has not been disregarded, and with a view of further contributing to such results the following additional considerations are finally submitted:
It seems clear that the first and most essential thing for all those who are desirous of determining the extent of the evils which the recent economic disturbances have occasioned, and what course of procedure on the part of society and individuals is likely to prove most remedial of them, is to endeavor to understand the situation as an entirety; and that effort is likely to be rendered ineffectual and disturbance intensified by all discussions and actions that start from any other basis. In fact, one of the remarkable features of the situation has been the tendency of many of the best of men in all countries to rush, as it were, to the front, and, appalled by some of the revelations which economic investigations everywhere reveal, and with the emotional largely predominating over their perceptive and reasoning faculties, to proclaim that civilization is a failure, or that something ought immediately to be done, and more especially by the state, without any very clear or definite idea of what can be done, or with any well-considered and practical method of doing. The position of the Russian novelist Tolstoi, before noticed, is a case in point. The distressing picture of what the world has come to during the fifty years of the reign of Queen Victoria, as drawn by the poet Tennyson in his new "Locksley Hall," and which Mr. Gladstone has so impressively reviewed and effectually disproved, is another. On the other hand, it may be confidently asserted that a comprehensive view of the situation will show that not an evil referable to recent economic changes or disturbances can be cited, which has not been attended with much in the way of alleviation or compensation, the comparison being between individuals and classes and society as a whole. Thus, the facts in relation to the wages earned by the poor men and women who work for the sellers of cheap clothing, and who seem to be unable to find any more remunerative occupations, are indeed pitiful; but, if clothes were not thus made cheap, many would be clothed far more poorly than they now are, or possibly not at all. It is not the rich man who buys "slop" coats and shirts, but the man who, if he could not be thus supplied, would go ragged or without them. If the decline in the price of cereals and in the value of arable land has forced many who follow agricultural pursuits out of employment, there never was a time in the history of the world when the mass of mankind was fed so abundantly and so cheaply as at present. If the decline in the rates of interest on capital has been a sore grievance to the small capitalists, a reduction in the rate of income from invested property means in the final analysis that the world pays less than it has before for the use of its machinery, and that labor is obtaining a "larger" and capital a "smaller" share of the compensation paid for production.
Inequality in the distribution of wealth seems to many to constitute the greatest of all social evils. But, great as may be the evils that are attendant on such a condition of things, the evils resulting from an equality of wealth would undoubtedly be much greater. Dissatisfaction with one's condition is the motive power of all human progress, and there is no such incentive for individual exertion as the apprehension of prospective want. "If everybody was content with his situation, or if everybody believed that no improvement of his condition was possible, the state of the world would be that of torpor," or even worse, for society is so constituted that it can not for any length of time remain stationary, and, if it does not continually advance, it is sure to retrograde.
It is a matter of regret that those who declaim most loudly against the inequalities in the distribution of wealth, and are ready with schemes for the more "equal division of unequal earnings" as remedies against suffering, are the ones who seem to have the least appreciation of the positive fact, that most of the suffering which the human race endures is the result of causes which are entirely within the province of individual human nature to prevent, and that, therefore, reformation of the individual is something more important than the reformation of society.
To understand the problem of poverty, as it at present exhibits itself, especially with reference to remedial effects, it is necessary to look at it comprehensively from two different standpoints. Viewed from the standi)oint of twenty or twenty-five years ago, or before what may be termed the advent of the "ma- machinery epoch," there is no evidence that the aggregate of poverty in the world is increasing, bnt much that proves to the contrary. The marked prolongation of human life, or the decline in the average death-rate in all countries of high civilization; the recognized large increase in such countries in the per capita consumption of all food-products; and the further fact that fluctuations in trade and industry, calamitous as they still are, are less in recent times than they used to be, and less disastrous on the whole in their effects on the masses, are absolutely conclusive on this point. Great as has been the depression of business since 1873, there is no evidence that it has yet made any impression on the "stored wealth" of the people of the great commercial countries; and that, slow as is the accumulation of capital, a year probably now never passes in which some addition is not made to the previous sum of the world's material resources. The recognized tendency of the poor to crowd more and more into the great centers of population—drawn thither, undoubtedly, in no small part by the charities which are there especially to be found, and also by the fact that town labor is better paid than country labor—and the contrasts of social conditions, which exhibit themselves more strikingly at such centers than elsewhere, naturally cause popular observation of poverty to continually center, as it were, at its focus of greatest intensity, and creates impressions and induces conclusions that broader and more systematized inspections often fail to substantiate. Indeed, one thing which the public needs to recognize more fully than it does is, that in most of the leading nations, systematic and rigid investigations, in respect to most economic subjects and questions, have now been prosecuted for a considerable period by governments and individuals; that the broad general conclusions deducible therefrom in respect to mortality, health, wages, prices, pauperism, population, and the like, are not open to anything like reasonable doubt or suspicion; and also that the pessimistic views which many entertain as to the future of humanity are often directly due to the exposure of bad social conditions which have been made in course of these investigations with the purpose of amending them.
During the last quarter of a century the problem of poverty has, however, been complicated by a new factor; namely, the displacement of common labor by machinery, which has been greater than ever before in one generation or in one country. To what extent the numbers of the helpless poor have been increased from this cause is not definitely known; but the popular idea is doubtless a greatly exaggerated one. In fact, considering the number and extent of the agencies that have been operative, it is a matter of wonderment that the influences in this direction have not been greater. In the United States little or no evidence has yet been presented that there has been any increase in poverty from this cause. In London, where the cry of distress is at present especially loud and deep, it is "noteworthy that no measures have yet been taken to ascertain whether that distress is normal or abnormal, and whether it is increasing or decreasing." But even here the opinion, based on what is claimed to be an exhaustive inquiry, has been expressed that, "although the number of those who are both capable and willing to give fair work for fair pay and are at the same time destitute, is in the aggregate considerable, they yet form but a very small proportion of the unemployed"; and "that probably not over two per cent of the destitute are persons of good character as well as of average ability in their trades." The following additional facts, of a more general nature, are also pertinent to this subject: That wages everywhere have not fallen but advanced, as a sequence to the introduction and use of cheaper and better machinery and processes, proves that labor, through various causes—probably by reason mainly of increased consumption—has not yet been supplanted or economized by such changes to a sufficient extent to reduce wages through any competition of the unemployed. The multiplicity and continuance of strikes, and the difficulty experienced in filling the places of strikers with a desirable quality of labor, are also evidence that the supply of skilled labor in almost every department of industry is rather scarce than abundant. Again, it is a matter of general experience that when, in recent years, wages, by reason of a depression of prices, have been reduced in any specialty of production, such reductions have been mainly temporary, and are rarely, if ever, equal to the fall in the prices of the articles produced; which in turn signifies that the loss contingent on such reductions has been mainly borne by capital in the shape of diminished profits. Notwithstanding this, it must be admitted that the immense changes in recent years in the conditions of production and distribution have considerably augmented—especially from the ranks of unskilled labor and from agricultural occupations—the number of those who have a rightful claim on the world's help and sympathy. That this increase is temporary in its nature, and not permanent, and that relief will ultimately come, and mainly through an adjustment of affairs to the new conditions, by a process of industrial evolution, there is much reason to believe. But, pending the interval or necessary period for adjustment, the problem of what to do to prevent a mass of adults, whose previous education has not qualified them for taking advantages of the new opportunities which material progress offers to them, from sinking into wretchedness and perhaps permanent poverty, is a serious one, and one not easy to answer.
A comprehensive review of the relations of machinery to wages, by those who by reason of special investigations are competent to judge, has led to the following conclusions: When machinery is first introduced it is imperfect, and requires a high grade of workmen to successfully operate it; and these for a time earn exceptionally high wages. As time goes on, and the machinery is made more perfect and automatic, the previous skill called for goes up to better work and even better pay. Then those who could not at the outset have operated the machinery at all, are now called in; and at higher wages than they had earned before (although less than was paid to their predecessors), they do the work. Capital in developing and applying machinery may, therefore, be fairly regarded as in the nature of a force, unintentionally, but of necessity, continually operating to raise all industrial effort to higher and better conditions: and herein we have an explanation of the economic phenomenon that, while the introduction of improved machinery economizes and supplements labor, it rarely or never reduces wages.
One of the most curious features of the existing economic situation is the advocacy of the idea, and the degree of popular favor which has been extended to it, that a reduction of the hours of labor, enforced, if needs be, by statute, is a "natural means for increasing wages and promoting progress." This movement in favor of a shorter day of work is not, however, of recent origin, inasmuch as it has greatly commended itself to public sentiment in Great Britain and in the United States for many years, and more recently in a lesser degree in the states of continental Europe. But it is desirable to recognize that the early agitation in furtherance of this object, and the success which has attended it, was based on reasons very different from those which underlie the arguments of to-day. Thus, in England and on the Continent, the various factory acts by which the day's labor has been shortened, were secured by appealing to the moral sense of the community to check the overworking of women and children; or, in other words, most of such legislation has thus far been influenced by moral considerations, and has so commended itself by its results that there is probably no difference of opinion in civilized countries as to its desirability. But the form which this movement has of late assumed is entirely different. It is now economic, and not moral, and its final analysis is based on the assumption that the laborer can obtain more of wealth or comfort by working less.
It would seem to need no elaborate argument to demonstrate the absurdity of this position. Production must precede consumption and enjoyment, and the only way in which the ability of everybody to consume and enjoy can be increased, is by increasing, so to speak, the output of the whole human family. If production be increased, the worker will necessarily receive a larger return; if diminished, he will necessarily get a smaller return. And it makes no difference whether the diminution be effected by reduction in the hours of work, or by less effective work, or by disuse of labor-saving machinery, or by other obstructive agencies. The result will inevitably be the same: there will be less to divide among the producers after the constantly diminishing returns of capital have been withdrawn.
It will doubtless be urged that man's knowledge and control of the forces of Nature have increased to such an extent in recent years that almost any given industrial result can now be effected with, much less of physical effort than at any former period; and therefore a general and arbitrary reduction of the hours of labor, independent of what has already occurred and is further likely to occur through the quiet influence of natural agencies, is not only justifiable, but every way practicable. This would undoubtedly be true if mankind were content to live as their fathers did. But they are not so content. They want more, and this want is so progressive, that the satisfactions of today almost cease to be satisfactions on the morrow. But what "more" of abundance, comfort, and even luxury to the masses has been achieved—and its aggregate has not been small—has not been brought about by any diminution of labor, but has been due mainly to the fact that the labor set free by the utilization of natural forces has been re-employed, as it were, to produce them; or, in other words, recent material progress is more correctly defined by saying, that it consists in the attainment of greater results with a given expenditure of labor, rather than the attainment of former results with a diminished expenditure. Whether the present relation of production to consumption which it now seems necessary should be maintained, if the present status of abundance, wages, and prices is to be continued and further progress made, can be maintained with a diminished amount of labor, may not at present admit of a satisfactory answer. Production in excess of current demand, or overproduction, which has been and still is a feature of certain departments of industry, and which may seem to favor an affirmative answer, is certain to be a temporary factor, for nothing will long continue to be produced unless there is a demand for it at remunerative prices from those possessed of means to purchase and consume, and therefore can not be legitimately taken into account in forming an opinion on this subject; but, other than this, all available evidence indicates that the answer must be still in the negative. Thus, for example, the. latest results of investigation by the Massachusetts Bureau of Labor Statistics show that during the year 1885 all the products of manufacture in that State could have been secured by steady work for 307 working days of 9.04 hours each, if this steady work could have been distributed equally among all the persons engaged in manufactures. But, to effect such an equitable distribution is at present almost impossible; and if it could be brought about, a reduction of the hours of labor to eight per day in such industries, as has been advocated by many, would reduce the present annual product of Massachusetts to the extent of more than one ninth. Apart, therefore, from the disastrous competition which, would be invited from other States and countries where labor was more productive, to expect that under such a reduction of product the share at present apportioned to the workers, or, what is the same thing, the existing rates of wages could be maintained, seems utterly preposterous. It is not even too much to say that the very existence of multitudes would be endangered if the present energy of production were diminished twenty per cent. And in this connection how full of meaning is the following deduction which Mr, Atkinson finds warranted by investigation, namely: "That over a thousand millions' worth of product must be added every year and prices be maintained where they now are, in order that each person in the United States may have five cents more than he now does, or in order that each person engaged in any kind of gainful occupation may be able to obtain an increase in the rate of wages of fifteen cents a day. Great and undoubted, therefore, as have been the benefits accruing from machinery and labor-saving inventions, the margin that would needs be traversed in order to completely neutralize them by rendering human labor less efficient, is obviously a very narrow one," To which may be added that there is probably no country at the present time where the entire accumulated property would sell for enough to subsist its population in a frugal manner for a longer space than three years,
The greatest of the gains that have accrued to the masses through recent material progress has been in the saving of their time; not so much in the sense of diminishing their hours of labor, as in affording them a greater opportunity for individual self-advancement than has ever before been possible. To clearly comprehend this proposition, it is necessary to keep in view the fact that all men, with the exception of the comparatively few who inherit a competence, are born, as it were, into a condition of natural bondage or servitude. Bondage and servitude to what? To the necessity of earning their living by hard and continuous toil. "In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread," has been recorded as a divine injunction, and experience shows that a great majority of mankind, as the result of long years of toil, have never hitherto been able to command much more than a bare subsistence. In countries of even the highest civilization, where the accumulation of wealth is greatest and most equably divided, investigation has also led to the conclusion that ninety per cent at least of the population are never possessed of sufficient property at the time of their demise to require the services of an administrator.
Now if, in the course of events, it has become possible, through a greater knowledge and control of the forces of Nature, to gain an average subsistence with much less of physical effort than ever before, what is the prospect thereby held out to the multitude, 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. "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."
The course of events, nevertheless, warrants mankind in expecting that the progress which has been made in recent years in diminishing the necessity for long hours of labor will be continued; but such progress will be permanent and productive of the highest good only so far as it is determined by natural agencies. "If the attempt is made to save the time of the masses by radical and artificial methods, leisure will become license; but, if they can be taught to save their own time, leisure, as already pointed out, will be opportunity."
Probably the most signal feature of the recent economic transitions has been the extensive decline in the prices of most commodities; and as great material interests have been for a time thereby injuriously affected—commodities at reduced valuation not paying the same amount of debt as before—the drift of popular sentiment seems to be to the effect that such a result has been in the nature of a calamity. Accordingly, a great variety of propositions and devices have been brought forward in recent years, and largely occupied the attention of the public in all civilized countries, which, in reality, have had for their object not merely the arrest of this decline, but even the restoration of prices to something like their former level; and in such a category the attempt to regulate artificially the relative values of the precious metals, the increasing restrictions on the freedom of exchanges, the stimulation of trade by bounties, the formation of "trusts," "syndicates," trade and labor organizations, and the like, may all be properly classed. But all such attempts, as Dr. Barth, of Berlin, has expressed it, "are nothing more than designs to lengthen the cloth by shortening the yard-stick." Decline and instability in prices, if occasioned by temporary and artificial agencies, are to be deprecated; but a decline in prices caused by greater economy and effectiveness in manufacture, and greater skill and economy in distribution, in place of being a calamity is a benefit to all, and a certain proof of an advance in civilization. The mere fact that the general fall of prices which has occurred has been attended with an almost simultaneous and universal increase in the consumption of the necessaries of life and other commodities, is conclusive not only of a great improvement in the condition of the masses, but also that all attempts to retard or reverse this movement by governmental interference or individual organizations, are the worst possible economic policy. In Great Britain alone the decline in the price of meats and cereals between 1872 and 1886 is estimated to have resulted in producing an annual saving to each artisan consumer of $1.95 per head in meat and $3.75 per head in wheat, or an aggregate on 35,000,000 consumers of $143,500,000 per annum. At the same time, and very curiously, investigations seem to prove that the aggregate consumption of wheat and meats in Great Britain has not in recent years increased; but such an unexpected result will probably find an explanation in the circumstance that the undoubted increased earnings of the masses have been directed to the satisfying a desire for many commodities which formerly they could not gratify, rather than an increased consumption of breadstuffs and meat products.
Judged by their fiscal policies, most governments would also seem to regard a decline in prices, especially in respect to food products, as in the nature of a calamity to their people. With the exception of Great Britain and Holland, nearly every nation—pretending to any degree of civilization—has within recent years greatly increased its taxes on its supply of food from without, and more especially on meats and cereals. A comparison of the prices of wheat in England and France for 1886 shows that French consumers paid during that year alone 6s. 3d. ($1.50) per quarter more than they would need have done for all the wheat used by them as food in the country, had the free importation of wheat into France been permitted, or $38,000,000 on their minimum aggregate consumption for twelve months. In March, 1887, an increase in the French duties on the importation of wheat further increased its price in France to an average of 9s. 8d. ($2.19) per quarter over the corresponding average rates in England; which difference, if maintained for the ensuing twelve months, would have increased the aggregate cost of bread to French consumers by the large sum of $87,000,000.
In 1885 the registered sales of horse-flesh for human consumption in Paris were 7,662,412 pounds. In 1886 the sales were officially reported as having increased to 9,001,300 pounds, with an accompanying marked diminution in the consumption of pork. Whether there is any necessary connection between the two experiences need not be affirmed, but the facts are suggestive.
The attempt to crush out of use, by legislation, one of the most brilliant discoveries of the age, namely, the manufacture of butter from the fat of the ox, equally as wholesome as that made from the fat (cream) of the cow, is a libel on civilization; and, as a measure for depriving the masses of a better article of desirable food at cheaper rates, than very many of them have been accustomed to have, or can now procure, would be fiercely resented by them, if once properly and popularly understood.
The fact that in no country do the masses ever experience as much benefit from a fall of prices as they would seem to be fairly entitled to, owing to the great difference between wholesale and retail rates, and that this difference is always greatly intensified in the case of the poor who purchase in small quantities, clearly indicates one of the greatest and as yet least occupied fields for economic and social reform. Flour, in the form of bread, costs usually three times more, when distributed to the poorer consumers in cities of the United States, than the total aggregate cost of growing the wheat out of which it is made, milling it into flour, barreling, and transporting it to the bakeries. The retail prices of meats are enhanced in like manner; and investigation some years ago showed that when anthracite coal was being sold and delivered in New York city for $4.60 per ton, it cost the people on the East and North Rivers, who bought it by the bucketful, from $10 to $14 per ton.
Similar results are noticed in all other countries. Out of every £100 paid by the consumers of milk in London, Sir James Caird estimates that not more than £30 finds its way into the hands of the English dairy farmers who in the first instance supply it. In the case of some varieties of fish—mackerel—the cost of inland distribution in England has been reported to be as high as 400 per cent in excess of the price paid to the fishermen. Eggs collected from the farmers in Normandy are sold according to size to Parisian consumers, at an advance in price of from 82 to 200 per cent.
The payment of rent is believed by many to be the chief cause of social distress, and a continual draught on the resources of the poor, for which no adequate equivalent is returned. And yet investigations similar to those (before noticed) which have demonstrated how small need be the first cost of the food essentials of good living, have also led to the opinion that, "not much more than half the money that men usually pay for rent would, if expended in the right direction and under easily prepared guarantees, secure them possession of good homes, protected in all the rights given by a title in fee simple, and which they could transmit unencumbered to their families."
Co-operative associations have done something in the way of remedying the evils resulting from unfair and unnecessary enhancements of prices to consumers buying at retail or in small quantities; but as yet the success that has attended their efforts in this direction, although promising, has been partial and incomplete. Associations of this character appear to find much more popular favor and support in England than in the United States; and, probably, for the reason that the great establishments which have sprung up in recent years at almost all the considerable centers of population in the United States for the sale of imperishable commodities, and which are systematically conducted on the economic basis that large sales with relatively small profits ultimately assure the largest aggregate of profits, sell goods of the character indicated at lower retail prices than generally prevail in England, and so limit the sphere of beneficial operation of the American co-operative societies.
The relation between prices and poverty has long attracted attention, and nothing new in the way of theory remains to be offered. Three thousand or more years ago, a certain wise man, who had sat at the marts of trade, and made himself conversant with the nature of wholesale and retail transactions, embodied in the following short and simple sentence as much in the way of explanation of these involved phenomena as the best results of modern science will probably ever be able to offer, namely—"The destruction of the poor is their poverty."—Proverbs, 10th chapter, 15th verse. Something in the way of a real contribution to our general understanding of this subject would, however, seem to be found in the recent observation that the value-perceiving sense or faculty is not implanted by Nature in every person, but differs widely in different races and families; and that "he who has it will accumulate wealth with comparatively slight exertion, while he who has it not will not gain it, no matter how energetically he labors." Illustrations of this are familiar to every student and investigator of social science; but the following one seems especially worthy of record: On the ferries between New York and Brooklyn, the rates of toll were some years ago reduced nearly one half to all who would buy at one time (or at wholesale) fifty cents' worth of tickets. But it was soon noticed that the working-classes, who at morning and evening constituted the bulk of the travel, rarely bought tickets, while they were bought as a rule by those who belonged to banking and mercantile establishments.
The countries of the world which within the last third of the century have made the greatest material progress are the United States and Australia. This has been due largely in both cases to the vast abundance of cheap and fertile land, which has occasioned and made possible a great increase in population. Like conditions have been similarly influential in increasing the population of Russia in a more rapid ratio than in most of the other countries of Europe. The United States, by reason of its great natural resources, and extensive use of machinery and consequent ability to control the supply and the price of many of the chief staple articles of the world's consumption—cotton, cereals, meats, tobacco, petroleum, and silver—is at present the great disturbing factor in the world's economic condition. But, of all old countries, England leads in all that pertains to civilization; and, making allowance for the exceptional advantages enjoyed by the United States and Australia, her relative progress has probably been as great as that of any country. In no one of the countries of Europe has the increase of population been greater, and in Italy, Germany, and Russia only, has there been an approximate growth; and this result has been especially remarkable, inasmuch as for many years England has not had an acre of virgin soil to expand upon. In no country of Europe, furthermore, has the increase of population been probably so largely accompanied by an increase in comfort as in England. Forty years ago the United Kingdom owned only about one third of the world's shipping. Now it practically owns more than one half, and of the existing steam-tonnage it owns seventy per cent. In respect to exports and imports—comparisons being made per capita—no other nation approximates England in its results to an extent sufficient to fairly justify a claim in its behalf to even the holding of a second place.
Something of inference respecting the economic changes of the future may be warranted from a study of the past. It may, for example, be safely predicated that whatever of economic disturbance has been due to a change in the relative value of silver to gold, will ultimately, and probably at no very distant period, be terminated by a restoration of the bullion price of the former metal to the rates (60 to 61 pence per ounce) that prevailed for many years prior to the year 1873. The reasons which warrant such an opinion are briefly as follows:
Silver is the only suitable coin medium for countries of comparatively low prices, low wages, and limited exchanges, like India, China, Central and South America, which represent about three fifths of the population of the world, or about a thousand millions of people. Civilization in most of these countries, through the advent of better means of production and exchange, is rapidly advancing—necessitating a continually increasing demand for silver as money, as well as of iron for tools and machinery. Generations also will pass before the people of such countries will begin to economize money by the use to any extent of its representatives—paper and credit, under such circumstances a scarcity, rather than a superabundant supply of silver, in the world's market, is the outlook for the future; inasmuch as a comparatively small per capita increase in the use of silver by such vast numbers would not only rapidly absorb any existing surplus, but possibly augment demand in excess of any current supply. The true economic policy of a country like the United States, which is a large producer and seller of silver, would therefore seem to be, to seek to facilitate such a result, by removing all obstacles in the way of commerce between itself and silver-using countries, in order that, through increased traffic and consequent prosperity, the demand for silver on the part of the latter might be promoted.
The great reduction in the cost of transportation of commodities has been one of the most striking features of recent economic history. Produce is now carried from Australia to England, a distance of eleven thousand miles, in less time and at less cost than was required a hundred years ago to convey goods from one extremity of the British Islands to the other. The average cost of transporting each ton of freight one mile on the Pennsylvania Railroad during the year 1887 was 426 of a cent. At first thought it would seem as if improvement in this sphere of human effort had certainly found a limit; but there are reasons for believing that even greater reductions are possible. Apart from improvements in machinery, and greater economies in operating, very few of the great lines of transportation, especially the railways, have as yet sufficient business to continuously exhaust their carrying capacity; but, when this is effected, and the present large class of fixed expenditures is apportioned to a larger business, lower rates for freight, from this cause alone, will be permissible; all of which, however, is simply equivalent to reaffirming the old trade maxim that it costs proportionally less to do a large than a small business.
An anticipation of an immense increase in the near future, in the commerce between the countries of the western and eastern hemispheres, owing especially to the introduction into the latter of better methods for effecting exchanges and transmitting information, is certainly warranted by recent experiences. Thus, if the trade between the United Kingdom alone and the leading countries of the East, exclusive of India, continues to increase in the next quarter of a century in the same ratio as it has during the last quarter, when commercial facilities were much less than at present, its aggregate value of $190,000,000 in 1860, and $440,000,000 in 1885, will swell to $1,038,000,000 in the year 1910; and, beyond that date, to an amount that must be left to the imagination.
That the only possible future for agriculture, prosecuted for the sake of producing the great staples of food, is to be found in large farms, worked with ample capital, especially in the form of machinery, and with labor organized somewhat after the factory system, is coming to be the opinion of many of the best authorities, both in the United States and Europe. And as a further part of such a system, it is claimed that the farm must be devoted to a specialty, or a few specialties, on the ground that it would be almost as fatal to success to admit mixed farming, as it would be to attempt the production of several kinds of manufactures under one roof and establishment.
Machinery is already largely employed in connection with the drying and canning of fruit and vegetables, and in the manufacture of wine. In the sowing, harvesting, transporting, and milling of wheat, the utilization has reached a point where further improvement would seem to be almost impossible. In the business of slaughtering cattle and hogs, and rendering their resulting products available for food and other useful purposes, the various processes, involving large expenditure and great diversity of labor, especially in "curing," succeed each other with startling rapidity, and are, or can be, all carried on under one roof; and on such a scale of magnitude and with such a degree of economy, that it is said that, if the entire profits of the great slaughtering establishments were limited to the gross receipts from the sale of the beef-tongues in the one case and the pigs' feet in the other, the returns on the capital invested and the business transacted would be eminently satisfactory. It is not, however, so well known that the business of fattening cattle by the so called "factory system," on a most extensive scale, has also been successfully introduced in the Northwestern and trans-Mississippi States and Territories, and that great firms have at present thousands of cattle gathered under one roof, and undergoing the operation of fattening by the most continuous, effective, and economic processes. The results show that one laborer can take care of two hundred steers undergoing the process of grain-feeding for the shambles, in a systematic, thorough manner, with the expenditure of much less time and labor per day than the ordinary farmer spends in tending fifteen or twenty head of fattening steers under the disadvantages existing upon ordinary farms. In these mammoth establishments "a steam-engine moves the hay from one large barn to another, as needed, by means of an endless belt, and su]3plies it to a powerful machine, where it is cut into lengths suitable for feeding, and afterward carries the cut hay by other belts to the mixing-room, where by means of another machine it is mixed with corn-meal; the corn having been previously shelled and then ground on the premises by power from the same engine. Again, the mixed feed is carried automatically to the feed-boxes in the stalls. The same engine pumps the water for drinking, which runs in a long, shallow trough within reach of the steers; and even the stalls are cleaned by water discharged through a hose, the supply being raised by the engine and stored for use. The steers are not removed from the stalls in which they are placed from the time the fattening process is begun until they are ready for transportation to the big establishments above mentioned for systematic slaughtering. The advantages of such establishments are not, moreover, confined to labor-saving expedients merely. The uniformity of temperature secured through all kinds of weather is equivalent to a notable saving of feed; for where fluctuations of temperature are extreme and rapid, and not guarded against, "a great deal of the grain which the farmer feeds is 'blown away' after having been consumed by his stock," in form of vital heat, strength, and growth, which are the products of the conversion of the grain on digestion.
How great a revolution in the business of agriculture is yet to be effected by the cultivation of land in large tracts, with the full use of machinery and under the factory system, is matter for the future to reveal; but it can not be doubted that the shiftless, wasteful methods of agriculture, now in practice over enormous areas of the earth's surface, are altogether too barbarous to be much longer tolerated; and, as the result of such progress, the return of the prices of meats and cereals to their former higher rates, which many are anticipating on account of the increasing number of the world's consumers, may be delayed indefinitely. Possibly in the not very remote future, the world — as its population shows no signs of abatement in its increase — may be confronted with a full occupation of all farming land and a great comparative diminution of product through an exhaustion of its elements of fertility; but, before that time arrives, improvements may possibly be made in agriculture which will have practically the same effect as an increase in the quantity of land; or possibly chemistry may be able to produce food by the direct combination of its inorganic elements.
Finally, a comprehensive review of the economic changes of the last quarter of a century, and a careful balancing of what seems to have been good and what seems to have been evil in respect to results, would seem to warrant the following conclusions: That the immense material progress that these changes have entailed has been for mankind in general, movement upward, and not downward; for the better and not for the worse; and that the epoch of time under consideration will hereafter rank in history as one that has had no parallel, but which corresponds in importance with the periods that successively followed the Crusades, the invention of gunpowder, the emancipation of thought through the Reformation, and the invention of the steam-engine; when the whole plane of civilization and humanity rose to a higher level; each great movement being accompanied by social disturbances of great magnitude and serious import, but which experience proved were but temporary in their nature and infinitesimal in their influence for evil in comparison with the good that followed. And what the watchman standing on this higher eminence can now see is, that the time has come when the population of the world commands the means of a comfortable subsistence in a greater degree and with less of effort than ever before; and what he may reasonably expect to see at no very remote period is, the dawn of a day when human poverty will mean more distinctly than ever physical disability, mental incapacity, or unpardonable viciousness or laziness.
- "Report on the Statistics of Wages," J. D. Weeks, U.S. Census, vol. xx.
- "The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844," by Frederick Engles.
- The condition of agricultural laborers in general, and large classes of artisans, in the United Kingdom, forty or fifty years ago, as described by Carlyle in his "Past and Present" and "Sartor Resartus," and by another most reliable English authority, Mr. W. T. Thornton, in his "Overpopulation and its Remedy," was so deplorable that it is now difficult to realize that it ever existed.
- Increased facility for communication between Great Britain and the United States has without doubt been a large factor in occasioning the present profound discontent of Ireland; and political subjugation and their existing land system have been more intolerable to the Irish peasant and artisan, since they have been enabled to compare the insititutions under which they live with those which their expatriated fellow-countrymen enjoy elsewhere.
- "The Fall in the Price of Commodities: its Cause and Effect," by Leroy-Beaulieu. Economiste français, April, 1887.
- As it is important to make clear the full force and meaning of the term "self-denial" and "natural progressive material and social development," as above used, attention is asked to the following considerations: The investigations of Mr. Atkinson show that an increase of five cents' worth of material comfort per day, for every day in the year, to each inhabitant of the United States, would require the annual production and equitable distribution of more than $1,000,000,000 worth of commodities! In the last analysis, therefore, national prosperity and adversity are measurable by a difference which is not in excess of the price of a daily glass of beer; or, if five cents' worth of product for each inhabitant could be added to the capital of the country in excess of the average for each day in the year, such a year, by reason of its increased exchanges and sum of individual satisfactions, could not be other than most prosperous.
Again, the extraordinary and comparatively recent reductions in the cost of transportation of commodities by land and water (in the case of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, for example, from an average of 3-45 cents per ton per mile in 1865 to 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.
- 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."
- This statement was first made by Mr. Giffen in 1883, in his inaugural address as President of the Royal Statistical Society of England, and was received with something of popular incredulity. But recurring to the same subject in another communication to the same society in 1886, Mr. Giffen asserts that further investigations show that there is no justification whatever for any doubts that may have been entertained as to the correctness of his assertions.
- It is at the same time not a little significant that the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Bureau of Labor Statistics should have reported in 1884, as the result of his investigations, that while from 1872 to 1883 wages advanced on an average 9.74 per cent in Great Britain, they declined on the average in Massachusetts during the same period 5.41 per cent.
- "On the Comparative Efficiency and Earnings of Labor at Home and Abroad," by J. S. Jeans, "Journal of the Royal Statistical Society" (G. B.), December, 1884.
- "Century Magazine," 1887.
- Letter to the London "Times," November, 1884.
- The results of an investigation recently instituted by the Prussian Government in consequence of a demand made for an absolute prohibition of Sunday labor in business occupations in that country, have revealed a curious and apparently an unexpected condition of public sentiment on the subject: Thus from returns obtained from thirty out of thirty-five provinces or departments, containing 500,156 manufacturing establishments and 1,582,591 workmen, it was found that 57-75 per cent of the factories kept at work on Sunday. On the other hand, the larger number of the workmen, or 919,664, rested on Sunday. As regards trade and transportation, it was found that in twenty nine provinces (out of thirty-five), of 147,318 establishments of one sort or another, employing 245,061 persons, 77 per cent were open on Sunday, and 57 per cent of the employes worked on that day. A canvass of the persons naturally most interested in the matter—i.e., the employés showed, however, that only a comparatively small number were in favor of the proposed measure. Thus, for example, of those who were consulted in the great factories or stores, only 13 per cent of the employers and 18 per cent of the employed were in favor of total prohibition. In the smaller industries the proportion was 18 per cent of the employers and 21 per cent of the employed. In trade only 41 per cent of the employers and 39 per cent of the employed, and in transportation only 12 per cent of the employers and 16 per cent of the employed, were in favor of total prohibition.
- The position has been taken, by some investigators and writers, that the great decline in the value of capital—by reason of an impairment of the ability of its owners, i.e., through loss of dividends on investments and of profits in business, to purchase and consume the products of labor, and a diversion of capital, from lack of remunerative income-yielding investments, into enterprises not needed and so occasioning overproduction—has been a prime and perhaps the main cause of all the economic disturbances in recent years. That such a factor, in common with many others, has been instrumental in occasioning serious disturbances, may not be questioned; but that its influence has not been in any sense primary would seem evident, when it is considered that the reason why capital has increased and cheapened in these latter years is, that mankind, through a larger knowledge and better use of the forces of Nature, has been enabled to produce, and actually has produced, a far greater abundance of almost all material things (or, in other words, a greater abundance of capital) than at any former period of their history. Capital, at the outset, greatly contributed to such a development, or, like the wizard in the Eastern fable, it pronounced the incantation which set the natural forces at work; but the wonderful increase and consequent impairment in the value of capital was an after-result, something not anticipated, and the continued progress of which the owners of capital, like the enchanter, now find themselves powerless to check. The saving in the cost of the freight moved on the railroads of every country, comparing 1887 with 1850, and assuming like quantities to have been transported at the different periods, would represent every year more than the original cost of the railroads and their equipment.
- Those not familiar with financial experiences can hardly realize the great decline within the last few years in the price and profits of capital. Thus, the average rates of interest in the cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Chicago, as computed from the record of public transactions, from 1844 to 1858, was 10.5 per cent. In 1871 the London "Economist" estimated that the average rate of interest on a majority of the foreign and colonial stocks and bonds at that time held in Great Britain, amounting to not less than twenty-eight hundred and fifty million dollars, was equal to six or seven per cent as a minimum. Up to 1871 the United States had not been able to sell any portion of its funded debt, bearing 6 per cent gold interest in European markets, on terms as favorable as par in gold. United States five-twenty 6s being quoted on the London market in 1870 as low as 87½. The following is a transcript of the prices of various securities as quoted on the London market in 1871: German Confederation obligations, 5 per cents, 87; French national defense 6s, 87; Massachusetts 6s, 91; Georgia 7s, 78; Spanish 5 per cents, secured by a mortgage on the celebrated quicksilver-mines of New Almaden, in addition to the faith of the Government, 76 and 77; Italian 6 per cents, secured by a pledge of the state revenues from tobacco, 87¾; Japanese 9 per cents, 89; Panama Railroad 7 per cent general mortgage, 93; Michigan Central Railroad, first-mortgage sinking-fund, 8 per cent, 85; Pennsylvania Railroad 6 per cent general mortgage (sterling), 91. To-day the Governments of Great Britain and the United States can readily borrow money at 2½ per cent; all first-class railroad corporations at 4 per cent; while millions of money have been loaned in recent years on real-estate security in the United States for 4 per cent, and in Great Britain for 3 per cent. In Germany the market rate of discount for a considerable period in 1887 was as low as from 1½ to 1⅝ per cent. Not many years ago the customary rate of interest allowed by the savings-banks and trust companies of the United States was 6 per cent; now the former for the most part pay but 4, and the trust companies but 2 to 3 per cent, British consuls in November, 1887, paid to the investor 215⁄6 per cent, while of the best (debenture) railroad stocks of Great Britain none now return as much as 4 per cent on their current market prices. The dividends of the Imperial (Reichbank) Bank of Germany in the four years from 1883 to 1886 inclusive, declined 0.96 per cent, and the average of the private banks of Germany during the same period, 1.60 per cent; all of which clearly indicates that the banking business of Germany is becoming less and less profitable.
- According to Mr. Mulhall, the English statistician, the following table exhibits the changes in the leading items of wealth in Great Britain since 1840:
[Omitting 6 ciphers.]
1840. 1860. 1887. Railways £21 £348 £831 Houses 770 1,164 2,640 Furniture 385 582 1,320 Lands 1,680 1,840 1,542 Cattle, etc 380 460 414 Shipping 23 44 130 Merchandise 70 190 321 Bullion 61 105 143 Sundries 710 827 1,869 Total £4,100 £5,560 £9,210
In 1837 the population of the United Kingdom was 26,000,000; in 1887, it was 37,000,000, an increase during the period of 42 per cent.
- One of the largest landholders of Austrian Silesia thus recently expressed himself: "A few years ago my estates admitted of the profitable cultivation of wheat; but the price of wheat, through the competitive supplies of the United States, and in spite of high protective duties at home, has declined to such an extent that the cultivation is no longer profitable. The same is true in respect to the domestic (Austrian) growing of cattle. Latterly, the encouragement of the beet-root sugar production, by the granting of bounties by the state on its exportation, has given an opportunity for labor and proved remunerative; but if the state should abandon the bounty system, which is not improbable, my land, as a source of income, seems likely to become valueless."
- "Inaugural Address of Governor Foraker," January, 1837.
- Report of a committee of citizens of the ten cotton-growing States ("Sam" Barnett, of Georgia, ciiairman), "On the Causes of the Depressed Condition of Agriculture, and the Remedies," 1887.
- The incentives of progress are the desires inherent in human nature—the desire to gratify the wants of the animal nature, the wants of the intellectual nature, and the wants of the sympathetic nature—desires that, short of infinity, can never be satisfied, as they grow by what they feed on."—Henry George.
- The conditions which are naturally imbedded, as it were, in human nature, and which war against the realization of the idea of an ultimate equality in the distribution or possession of capital, have been thus clearly and forcibly pointed out by Mr. George Baden Powell in his "New Homes for the Old Country," published in 1872 after a visit to Australia and New Zealand: "Since the arrival of man in the world there have been perpetual questionings as to why all men are not well off. Why should the good things of this life be so unequally distributed? The two great causes, one as powerful as the other, are circumstances and talents. But these two opposite causes all through man's life influence each other greatly. Circumstances call forth peculiar talents which might otherwise be uselessly dormant, and talents often take advantage of peculiar circumstances which might otherwise be overlooked and missed. It is by no means improbable that as the world grows wiser some means will be found of considerably raising the lowest stage of existence, but it is entirely against the nature of things that all should be equal in every way. Innate pride continually urges men to seek that which is above them, and to many happiness in life is the mere gaining of such successive steps. The essential rule is to work one's own circumstances to the highest point attainable by means of the talents possessed. These talents may be said to resolve themselves into various capitals, and a man may have capital for the improvement of his condition in the form of money, brains, or health and strength—in fact, he may thrive by the possession of 'talents,' whether of gold, of the mind, or of the body. With this fully recognized fact of the diversities of capital, it would seem obviously impossible for a people to continue long in the humanly imposed possession of equal personal shares in any capital."
- A chapter from the recent experience of the city of Brooklyn; New York, in respect to pauperism, affords a very striking illustration of this statement. In the five years from 1874 to 1878 inclusive, the number of persons who asked and received outside poor relief from the city authorities increased more than 50 per cent, while the increase in the population of the city during the same period was less than 14 per cent. The evidence would, therefore, almost seem conclusive that the masses of this city were rapidly becoming poorer and poorer. In the latter year, however, the system of giving outside poor relief was wholly discontinued. It was feared by many that this action would lead to great distress and suffering, and many charitable persons made preparations to meet the demands they expected would be made upon them. Nothing of the kind occurred. Not only was the whole number (46,093) drawing aid from the county wholly stopped, but it was also accompanied by a decreased demand on the public institutions and private relief societies of the city, and a reduction in the number of inmates in the almshouse. The teaching of this experience, which has since been elsewhere substantiated, is, therefore, to the effect that what seem to be unmistakable proofs of increasing poverty were merely methods to supplement wages on the gains from mendicancy.
- According to the Report of the Bureau of Statistics of Labor for Massachusetts for ISSY, the whole number of persons of both sexes in that State, who were unemployed at their principal occupation during some part of the year preceding the date of the census enumeration (May 1, 1885), was 241,589, of whom 178,628 were males and 69,961 were females. Comparing these figures with those of the population in 1885, viz., 1,941,465, it is found that for every 804 persons there was one person unemployed for some part of the year at his or her principal occupation, the percentage of unemployed being greater in the case of males and less in the case of females. These conclusions, however, throw no light on the number of persons who were unemployed by reasons of displacement by machinery; and are also likely to mislead, unless sufficient consideration is given to the fact that the number of industrial occupations which only admit of being prosecuted during a portion of the year is in every community very considerable. And, as a matter of fact, the investigations in question show that there were only 882 persons representing hardly more than one-third of one per cent of the whole number of the unemployed in this State, who were returned as having been unemployed during the entire twelve months.
- "The Distress in London," "Fortnightly Review," London, January, 1888.
- "The Workless, the Thriftless, and the Worthless," "Contemporary Review," London, January, 1888.
- "Wealth and Progress," by George Gunton. D. Appleton & Co., New York.
- 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."
- 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."
- A report on the subject of "Oleomargarine," by the Royal Health Department at Munich, submitted March, 1887, says: "This product is made in great part from such proper ingredients as are useful in nourishment, namely, the fats or greases; and therefore it is of importance, as it furnishes to the poorer classes a substitute for butter which is cheaper and at the same time nourishing. We think that this want has been supplied in a most satisfactory manner by the manufacture of artificial butter. And it is offered in the markets in a condition superior to natural butter as far as cleanliness and careful preparation are concerned."
- "The Labor-Value Fallacy," by M. L. Scudder, Chicago, 1886.
- Robert Giffen, letters to the London "Times," 1884.
- According to statements submitted to the Royal (English) Commission on Trade Depression, "The quantity of pure silver used for coinage purposes, during the fourteen years ending 1884, was about eighteen per cent greater than the total production during that period; and there are other estimates which place the consumption at a still higher figure. It is to be remembered that the coinage demand is fed from other sources than the annual output of the mines. It is supplied to some extent by the melting down of old coinage. Allowing for this, however, the evidence of statistics goes to show that the coinage demand for the metal is, and has been, sufficient to absorb the whole of the annual supply that is left free after the consumption in the arts and manufactures has been supplied; and this conclusion is supported by the fact that nowhere throughout the world has there been any accumulation of un-coined stocks of the metal."—London Economist.
The situation suggests what is reported to have been contemplated, namely, the formation of a syndicate—like the so-called recent French syndicate in copper—for intercepting the current market supplies of silver by speculative purchases and vast holdings, with a view of compelling an immediate rise in the bullion price of this metal.
- It has been found that the present usual method adopted on Western farms of feeding grain, especially corn, without previous grinding, is most costly, as the grain in its natural condition is imperfectly digested. Another serious objection to the imperfect methods of the ordinary farm in grain-feeding is, that the grain is fed in a too concentrated form; the fact being unknown, or disregarded, that the thrift of the fattening animal depends largely on the intimate admixture of ground grain With coarse forage; and that hay, also, must be chopped, and more thoroughly intermingled with it, for the attainment of the best results. But the chopping of the hay and straw and the mixing with meal and water is a laborious operation, and hence the economy of applying the steam-engine, and thus saving labor in the business of feeding. Another saving is in building materials; the larger the structure in which the machinery, the hay and grain, and the animals are kept, the less the proportionate quantity of lumber needed; and then, again, in such an establishment, temperature and ventilation, which in ordinary farming are matters that receive little attention, are economically and effectively regulated. An American practical farmer, the owner and manager of seven thousand acres (Mr. H. H. ——, of Nebraska), to whom the writer is indebted for many items of information, communicates the following additional review of this subject from the American (Western) stand-point: "The average Western farm is now recklessly managed, but capital will come in greater volume and set up processes which will displace these wasteful methods. The revolution is certain, even if the exact steps can not now be precisely indicated. At present the hay, and much of the grain, and nearly all of the tools and implements, are unsheltered; and more than fifty per cent of the hay is ruined for a like reason, while the animals themselves (I do not mean now on the wild-stock ranges, but even on the trans-Missouri farms) have no roof over their heads, except the canopy of heaven, with the mercury going occasionally twenty and even thirty degrees below zero. These wasteful methods in farming are in part promoted by the United States homestead law, and the occupation of the hitherto inexhaustible expanse of cheap lands. When the ignorant, degraded, and impecunious can no longer acquire a hundred and sixty acres upon which to employ their barbarous methods, and when the land already taken up shall have risen from the low prices at which it now stands to fifty dollars or more per acre, a new dispensation will arrive. Neither the cattle, nor the food which the cattle consume, will then be raised by any such methods as now prevail; neither will they be exposed to the elements in winter. True enough, the opening up of other virgin fields in Australia, South America, Africa, and elsewhere, may retard this rise in the value of the land in the western part of our continent, and thus to a certain extent delay the passing of the land exclusively into the hands of larger capitalists and better managers; but it must be considered that not all climates are suitable for energetic, capable farming populations, and likewise that the best forage plants are restricted to temperate latitudes."