Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/270

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

to be servants no longer and were about to strike against the manipulator who had put them all into comfortable circumstances. The story is the same throughout. The plodding farm-hand can discover no good reason why his employer should occupy a large bed downstairs while he sleeps on a narrower, less ornate couch upstairs; the laborer, who shovels cinders in a mill-yard, knows how necessary his work is to the owner's success; he is convinced that an unfair share of the profits falls to his employer as well as to the man at the rolls. The subordinate everywhere, whatever his position may be, feels that his worth is unrecognized and that his reward is insufficient; while the man outside of all, angry because he has no share whatever, eggs on the discontented, anxious only to see some one injured and hoping that the injury will be distributed in proportion to the reward received.

It is absolutely certain that cooperation of all groups is essential to completion of great projects. Without direction by a master-mind, there could be no utilization of man's labor to the advantage of all. It would be like the superfluous heat of the sun or the force of the coastal tides, each sufficient to perform the whole mechanical work of the world, yet unused and useless because no one has conceived a method of control and application. To all intents and purposes, the energy of the vast mass of mankind is merely so much mechanical force, incapable of self-direction and without utility, unless marshaled by the constructive power of some master-mind.

But without this force the master-mind would be equally helpless. The man who conceived the transcontinental railway was fettered by physical limitations; he could plan the whole undertaking, but, in in order to complete the work within the compass of a single life, he was compelled to make use of other men's powers, mental as well as physical. Among engineers, contractors, operators, the chiefs were men of his own group; but, in each department, there was gradation in responsibility until at the bottom was the indiscriminate mass of employees, handling tools mechanically.

And remuneration, throughout, is graded to accord with the responsibility. The great reward is given to one whose physical output seems to be nothing, who has few hours at the office and many hours, apparently, for relaxation. The reward decreases as hours of physical exertion increase and the minimum is given to the laborer, whose only contribution comes from muscular expenditure. Mind, not muscle, receives the chief reward. Physical labor is a tangible thing, easily comprehended by even a stupid man; whereas proper valuation of mental labor is within the comprehension only of those competent to perform it. The hewer of wood and drawer of water are not to be blamed because they think the rewards of the higher groups disproportionately great; but their discontent is not against anything of human