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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/25

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THE ECONOMIC BISTCTBBANCES SINCE 1873.

much less, actual labor in 1886-'87 having produced 6,513,000 bales of cotton in the United States than was required in 1860 to produce 3,800,000 bales;[1] while in the case of iron the same amount of labor will produce in 1887 more than double the quantity, in the more valuable form of steel, than it could have produced in 1886. In short, if the debtor has got more to pay, he has more to pay with.

Again, it is a popular idea that the steadily increasing supply to the markets of the world during recent years of wheat, the product of low-priced labor from India—seriously affecting, through its competition, the prices and profits alike of the agriculturists of the United States and of Europe—has been in some way occasioned by the change in the relative values or purchasing powers of gold and silver, consequent on the "demonetization" of the latter metal—although no one as yet has been able to trace with any degree of clearness any connection between the two facts—and that an imperative necessity exists for some speedy and international remedial legislation. To all entertaining this idea, the following summary of evidence, brought out by the British Gold and Silver Commission in the course of their investigations prosecuted during the present year (1887), is especially worthy of attention:[2]

There was practically no trade or movement in wheat between Europe and India until two or three years after the opening of the Suez Canal, or until about 1873; in which year exportations were further encouraged by the removal of an Indian export duty on wheat of about 6 per cent. In June, 1881, and June, 1886, the prices of Cawnpore wheat at Calcutta were at the same level, namely, 2·9 rupees per maund. The cost of Indian wheat in London in 1881 was 42s. a quarter, and 31s. 6d. in 1880, or 10s. 6d. difference. In 1881 the rate of freight on wheat from India to London was 60s. per ton, and in 1886 30s., a difference of 30s. per ton, or 6s. 6d. per quarter. The decline in freights, therefore, accounts for 6s. 6d. out of the 10s. 6d. per quarter

  1. The increase in the cotton product of the United States since 1860 has been due mainly to the increased use of fertilizers, better tillage, better conditions for the employment of labor. In the Brazos alluvial region of Texas, which ranks among the first of cotton-producing regions, the relative increase in cotton product and population between 1870 and 1880, according to the United States census, was 1·8 to 1. In what is termed the "oak-upland" regions of North Carolina, the product of cotton in 1880 had increased over that of 1870 in the ratio of 4·5 to 1, or this region in 1880 produced more cotton than the product of the entire State in either 1870 or 1860. "This remarkable result," according to the special United States census report on cotton for 1880, "was due mainly to the introduction and general use of commercial fertilizers, which not only increase the crop, but hasten its maturity from two to three weeks, and so bring into the cotton belt a strip of plateau country whose elevation, of from 800 to 1,200 feet, had placed it just beyond the climatic range of the cotton-plant. This change is in no respect due to altered relations of labor."
  2. See "First Report of the British Commission"—evidence of Henry Waterfield, C. B., Financial Secretary of the India Office, and representing the Government of India, pp. 125, 126.