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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/612

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

production by machinery, are being gradually and to a large extent counteracted. No one can doubt that this is the tendency in the United States equally as in England, and it finds one striking illustration in the large number of new products that are demanded, and in the number of occupations that have been greatly enlarged or absolutely created in recent years, in consequence of the change in popular taste, conjoined with popular ability, to incur greater expense in the matter of house-building and house-decoration. Ten or fifteen years ago the amount of fine outside work in building constructions—in brick, terra-cotta, stone, and metal—and on interiors, in the •way of painting, paper-hangings, wall-coverings with other materials, fine wood-work, carving, furniture-making, carpet-weaving, draperies for doors and windows, stained glass and mirrors, and improved and elaborate sanitary heating and ventilating apparatus, was but a very small fraction of what is now required. Nothing, furthermore, is more certain than that all three departments of industry are to continue progressively enlarging; for all achievements in this direction increase taste and culture, and these in turn create new and enlarged spheres for industrial occupation.

How these same influences exert themselves for the extension of the intercommunication of intelligence, with the attendant increased demand for service and materials which represent opportunities for labor, is exemplified in the following postal statistics, the result of recent German investigation: Thus, for the year 1865 it is estimated that the inhabitants of the world exchanged about 2,300,000,000 letters; in 1873, the aggregate was 3,300,000,000; in 1885, including postal-cards, it was 6,257,000,000; in 1886, 6,926,000,000, with a larger ratio of increase in the transmission of printed matter, patterns, and other articles; the whole business giving employment to about 500,000 persons, for more than one half of which number there was probably no requirement for service under conditions existing in 1873. And to this aggregate should be added the increased number required to meet the greater requirements for the machinery and service of larger transportation, and vastly larger consumption of all the material and service incident to correspondence. The experience of the postal service of the United States also shows that, at all those points where a free delivery of letters has been established, the postal revenues have quickly and greatly augmented—another illustration that every increased and cheapened facility for use or consumption brings with it greater demands for service or production.

In view, then, of the undoubted tendency, as abundance or wealth increases, for labor to transfer itself, in no small proportions, from lower to higher grades—from the production of the great staples to occupations that minister to comfort and culture, rather than to subsistence—how impolitic, from the standpoint of labor's interests, seems to be the imposition of high taxes (as in the United States) on the impor-