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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/602

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

be done with the low-priced machine, he (the employer) found it necessary to go abroad and look for one of better condition, and for such a one high wages must be given."

A remarkable exhibit made in the annual reports of the Illinois Central Railroad, showing the cost of the locomotive service for each year for the past thirty years, is also especially worthy of attention in connection with this subject. From this it appears that the cost per mile run has fallen from 26·52 cents in 1857 to 13·93 cents in 1886; a reduction which has been effected wholly by inventions and improvements in machinery. But a further point of greater interest is, that during this same period the wages of the engineers and firemen have risen from 4·51 cents to 5·52 cents per mile run; or, in other words, the engineers and firemen on the Illinois Central, who in 1857 received 17 per cent of the entire cost of its locomotive service, received in 1886 nearly 40 per cent (39·6) of the total cost.

The introduction of machinery in many branches of industry—and more especially in agriculture—while increasing, perhaps, the monotony of employment, has also greatly lightened the severity of toil, and in not a few instances has done away with certain forms of labor which were unquestionably brutalizing and degrading, or physically injurious.[1]

Another paradox which should not be overlooked in this discussion is, that those countries in which labor-saving machinery has been most extensively adopted, and where it might naturally be inferred that population through the displacement and economizing of labor would diminish, or at least not increase, are the very ones in which population has at the same time increased most rapidly.

Taking all the machinery-using countries into account, the number of persons who have been displaced during recent years by new and more effective methods of production and distribution, and have thereby been deprived of occupation and have suffered, does not appear to have been so great as is popularly supposed; a conclusion that finds support in the fact that, notwithstanding trade generally throughout the world has been notably depressed since 1873, through a continued decline in prices, reduction of profits, and depreciation of property, the volume of trade—or the number of things produced, moved, sold, and consumed—on which the majority of those who are the recipients of wages and salaries depend for occupation, has all this time continually increased, and in the aggregate has probably been little if any less than it would have been if the times had been

  1. Mowing, reaping, raking machinery, winnowing, shelling, and weighing machines, hay-tedders, horse-forks, wheel-harrows, improved plows, better cultivators, and so on through almost the entire list of farm-tools, have combined to make the change in farm-work almost a revolution; and those only who have spent years in farming by old methods can fully realize the extent to which the severity of toil has been lightened to the farmer by the introduction and use of machinery.