Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/243

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229
FALLACIES OF MODERN ECONOMISTS.

the land, another to confine taxation to land, another to nationalize all the instruments and means of production, another prescribes a system of co-operation. One favors the enlargement of the powers and scope of government, and another insists on the annihilation of all governments. Small wonder, therefore, that the reader, who has not time to penetrate far below the surface, should lack faith in the teachings of a system whose doctors so thoroughly disagree.

An interesting and somewhat amusing book, entitled The Why I Ams, published by the Twentieth Century Publication Company, comprises a collection of short essays by the representatives of most of the modern economic societies, in which the writers give their reasons for the faith that is within them. Each writer is confident that the school to which he belongs possesses the true solution to the riddle of the social sphinx, and regards his scheme for social redemption as founded on "fundamental scientific principles." Let us examine some of these "fundamental principles" upon which these societies are founded. One of the "fundamental principles" underlying Progress and Poverty is, that the fund out of which wages are paid is created by the wage-earner. It follows that, if this be so, the doctrine that wages are advanced by capital falls to the ground. Mr. George proceeds to test his theory by induction. The illustrations he gives are of two kinds. One class applies to isolated settlements and the other to modern society. The one class apparently favors his theory, the other, however, is decidedly against him. For example, he instances conditions where men are employed in picking berries, gathering eggs, catching whales, etc. In these cases he says it is customary to pay those employed in such occupations by giving them a certain proportion of the things they have brought. In certain gold-fields it has been customary to pay the miner for his labor by giving him a certain percentage of the gold he has mined. All this seems clear enough, and, if the world's industries were confined to those above cited, Mr. George's principle would undoubtedly be sustained. But when he goes on to apply it to the modern factory, ship-yard, and those industries which form the vast majority of human occupations, the facts clearly disprove his assertions.

Mr. George says: "Bring the question to the test of facts. Take, for instance, an employing manufacturer who is engaged in turning raw material into finished products—cotton into cloth, iron into hardware, leather into boots, and so on—as may be, and who pays his hands, as is generally the case, once a week. Make an exact inventory of his capital on Monday morning before the beginning of work, and it will consist of his buildings, machinery, raw materials, money on hand, and finished products in stock. Suppose, for the sake of simplicity, that he neither buys nor sells