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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/611

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THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK.

733, and the number of car-passengers increased to 11,951,030. In the third year, with a reduction of foot-fares to one fifth of a cent, the number of foot-passengers declined 410,395, or to an aggregate of 3,239,337; while the number of car-passengers (with a reduction of fare from five to two and a half cents) increased 10,130,957, or to 21,843,250. For the year ending December 1, 1887, the number of foot-passengers further declined 574,929, or to 2,604,413, while the number of car-passengers further increased 8,097,003, or to 27,940,313; or to a total aggregate of 30,004,313. A correct explanation of these curious results may not be possible, but one inference from them that would seem to be warranted is, that when the American people find their pecuniary ability is abundantly sufficient to enable them to satisfy their desire for certain commodities or services, they will disdain to economize; and this idea may find illustration and confirmation in another incident of recent American experience. Thus, when the great decline in the price of sugars occurred in 1883, the American refiners expected that, whatever of increase of consumption might be attendant, would occur mainly in the lower grades of sugar; but, to their surprise, the actual increase was largely in respect to the higher grades. A leading refiner, who, somewhat puzzled at this result, asked one of his workmen for an explanation of it, received the following answer: "I give my wife fifty cents every Monday morning with which to buy sugar for the week for my family, and, as she finds that fifty cents will now buy as many pounds of the white as we once could get of the yellow sugars, she buys the white." A European workman (certainly a Frenchman) would probably have acted differently. He would have taken the same grade as before and got two pounds of additional sweetening for his money; or, more likely, he would have bought the same quantity and quality as before, and saved up the measure of the decline of price in the form of money.

Another explanation of the bridge phenomenon may be that the average American, who is always in a hurry, may think that, with the privilege of riding for two and a half cents, he can not afford the time to avail himself of the privilege of walking for a payment of one fifth of a cent.

Mr. Robert Giffen, in a review of the "Recent Rate of Material Progress in England" (British Association, 1887), recognizes an evident tendency, as that country increases in wealth, for the numbers employed in miscellaneous industries, and in what may be called "incorporeal functions"—that is, as artists, teachers, and others, who minister to taste and comfort in a way that can hardly be called material—to increase disproportionately to those engaged in the production of the great staples; and that, therefore, the production of these latter is not likely to increase as rapidly as heretofore. All of which is equivalent to affirming that, in virtue of natural law, the evils resulting from the displacement of labor, through more economic methods of