Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/557

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

in savings-banks, insurance, and like modes of investing property, take the place of investment in landed property or in a business managed by the property owner. Management by proxy becomes the rule, not the exception. The corporate form of business requires the concentration of large amounts of property under the control of a chosen few. The savings-bank, for example, is merely a collective form of investing in which the investments are made by the banker rather than by the hundreds of small investors themselves. The discipline that comes from the care and management of property is lost on the great multitude of workers of to-day.

Also, coincident with this phenomenon is the above-mentioned change in the character of the multitudes of immigrants who are flocking to our shores. In the report of the Commissioner-General of Immigration, for 1904, an official of the bureau who has been conducting extensive investigations in Europe, writes from there as follows: "The average immigrant of to-day is sadly lacking in that courage, intelligence and initiative which characterized the European people who settled in the western states during the eighties." The personal initiative, adaptability and self-reliance of the American have ever been the pride of the nation; but the environment, business methods and opportunities which aided in the production of these characteristics are undergoing modification. Industry and commerce offer opportunity to only a few, for the development of these valuable traits; and immigration brings us a class of people who are also sadly deficient in these qualities.

"The machine process is a severe and insistent disciplinarian in point of intelligence. It requires close and unremitting thought, but it is thought which runs in standard terms of quantitative precision. Broadly, other intelligence on the part of the workman is useless, or it is even worse than useless."[1] Unfortunately under present conditions, the above quotation states what is true in many cases of subdivided labor. Extreme subdivision of labor has reduced the unskilled worker to the level of an automatic piece of machinery. Brains, ideals, everything which go to make up the real human being and to differentiate him from the automatic machine, are at a discount. The man becomes a "hand." The internal organization is now placed on a scientific, calculated basis. Time cards and exact methods of determining the cost of labor and material are now essential to every well-regulated business. Every step from the first displacement of the raw material until the finished product is in the hands of the consumer is carefully calculated.

The chief motive for subdivision of labor is given by the opportunity to hire unskilled, low-standard-of-living workers, at an extremely

  1. Veblen, "Theory of Business Enterprise," p. 308.