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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/490

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472
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of the national income; now it expends annually about one twelfth. But for this greatly diminished expenditure the masses of the people now receive an immensely greater return than ever before; in the shape of increased postal and educational facilities, safer navigation, greater expenditures for the maintenance of the public health and public security, greater effort for preventing abuses of labor, etc.

The general conclusion from all these facts, as Mr. Giffen has expressed it, is that what "has happened to the working-classes in Great Britain during the last fifty years, is not so much what may properly be called an improvement, as a revolution of the most remarkable description." And this progress for the better has not been restricted to Great Britain, but has been simultaneously participated in to a greater or less extent by most, if not all, other countries claiming to be civilized. So far as similar investigations have been instituted in the United States, the results are even more favorable than in Great Britain. If they have not been equally favorable in other than these two countries, we have a right to infer that it has been, because the people of the former have not only started in their career of progress from a lower level of civilization and race basis than the latter, but have had more of disadvantages—natural and artificial—than the people of either Great Britain or the United States. The average earnings per head of the people of countries founded by the Anglo-Saxon race are confessedly larger than those of all other countries.[1]

But some may say; this is all very interesting and not to be disputed. But how does it help us to understand better and solve the industrial and social problems of to-day, when the cry of discontent on the part of the masses is certainly louder, and the inequality of condition, want, and suffering is claimed to be greater than ever before? In this way.

The record of progress in Great Britain above described is indisputably a record that has been made under circumstances that, if not wholly discouraging, were certainly unfavorable. It is the record of a country densely populated and of limited area, with the ownership, or free use of land, restricted to the comparatively few; with (until recent years) the largest national debt known in history; with a heavy burden of taxation apportioned on consumption rather than on accumulated property, and the reduction of which, a participation in constant wars and enormous military and naval expenditures has always obstructed or prevented; with a burden of pauperism at the outset, and, indeed, for the first half of the period under con-

  1. A recent British authority (Sir Richard Temple) mates the highest average earnings per head in any country at the present time to be in Australia, namely, £41 4s. Next in order, he places the United Kingdom, with an average per-capita earning capacity of £35 4s.; then the United States, with an average capacity of £27 4s.; and next, Canada, with an average of £26 18s. For the Continent of Europe the average is estimated at £18 1s.