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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/882

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

spread of democracy is redressing, and more than redresses the balance of religious prepossession. Yet it is certain that no religion will remain popular long which does not put a strong curb on the passions and whims of human nature. This, too, is felt, and the course of ecclesiastics is modified by the feeling.

 

Shorter Hours and Wages.—An elaborate review of the probable effects on wages of a general reduction in the hours of labor, presented in the British Association by Prof. J. E. C. Munro, brought him to the following conclusions: 1. A reduction in the hours of labor which is neither universal nor uniform will tend to reduce the net product available for division among the producing classes, but such reduction may be lessened or counteracted by greater efficiency in labor and in the use of capital. 2. Capital will be able to throw a portion of the loss on labor, and labor generally will be affected. 3. Any check to the accumulation of capital due to the reduction in the net produce will tend to raise interest and lower wages; but this may be avoided to some extent by the more economic use of capital. 4. The reduction in hours will not necessarily lessen the number of the unemployed, inasmuch as it will not increase the purchasing power of the consumer, and will not affect the chief cause of poverty incident to our present organization of industry. 5. The position of the chronic unemployed, or residuum, will not be materially improved. 6. In so far as additional laborers are employed to maintain the net produce, it will be at the expense of other workers, if the net produce remains the same but the number of producers increases. It is necessary to point out, the author added, that arguments which may be urged against a general, though unequal, reduction of hours do not apply with the same force to a reduction of hours in a particular trade that may be the subject of special economic surroundings. Before venturing to express an opinion on the desirability of reducing hours in a given industry—mining, for example—the economist will require to investigate these surroundings in order to estimate what loss, if any, will occur, and upon whom such loss will fall. But, even if there be a loss in a particular industry or a national loss, it may be more than made good to the nation by the beneficial effects on the working classes of greater leisure. Hence the importance of asking what the working classes will do with the hours they gain from toil. Reasons drawn from current movements were given for believing it probable that, so far as the skilled industries are concerned, the workers would, on the whole, utilize additional leisure in a manner creditable to themselves and useful to the state. Prof. A. T. Hadley, of Yale College, in the discussion of this paper, cited the results of an investigation which was made ten years ago into the relative output of ten-hour workmen in factories in Massachusetts and eleven-hour men in Connecticut. The result was in favor of ten hours in Massachusetts, and was proved not to be owing to any difference in the health of the workmen, but largely to the fact that the workmen of the Massachusetts mills were of a superior class to those of Connecticut. There was a process of a sort of natural selection going on among those who did not mind the long day and could not stand the increased pace of the short day, and those who cared more for the extra hour of leisure and minded less the necessity of increased exertion.

 

Fast and Fugitive Coal-tar Colors.—In a paper on fast and fugitive coal-tar colors Prof. J. J. Hummel, in the British Association, contradicted the idea that the modern coal-tar colors are all fugitive while the colors of the older vegetable dye-stuffs are all fast. There are fast and fugitive dyes in both classes. We have now about five hundred distinct kinds of coal-tar colors, of which about thirty are extremely fast and an equal number or more are moderately fast. On the other hand, out of the thirty or so natural dye-stuffs usually employed we count ten as giving fast colors. We have, therefore, a total of about three times as many fast coal-tar colors as of fast natural dye-stuffs. This pitting of natural as against artificial coloring matters ought now to cease. Of course, it is not to be denied that we have a very large number of fugitive coal-tar dyes; and the indiscriminate use of these, due largely to competition, has, no doubt, injured the reputation of the whole class. The question, often asked, whether there is no