Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/113

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ARE BUSINESS PROFITS TOO LARGE?

the account his better service and management, and lower commissions. They were more content with two dawdlers and inefficients, than with one brisk, energetic, and go-ahead fellow, who served them in better fashion.

It is found, after a term of years, that the one efficient man has saved a handsome property, and has money to lend to others to increase business, and that somehow his portion of taxes and public burdens is very large, and a material help to town expenses, while it is certain that the two men he displaced do not lend any money or pay any taxes of consequence, and probably never would had they retained the business which he took from them. The inefficients would have allowed matters to run along in a careless fashion, and they would have consumed their commissions in living expenses, so that nothing would have been added to the general stock; but the new and vigorous man having come in, the community, instead of having two poor persons who can pay no taxes for highways and schools, has a capitalist who does pay, and who also has money to lend to men who need. The common people in these days decry the richest man in town, and think him a detriment, a sort of incubus or dead weight which the people are compelled to carry, whose money has been made out of them by craft, and they imagine that had the laws of right and justice prevailed, their burden would not have existed. They do not for a moment dream that his capital would never have existed had the old dawdlers kept on to the end.

Nevertheless, they do believe in capacity, and they vote for the competent man for Governor, and town clerk, and assessor, and when they want a farm-hand or market-man they employ the best for the money, and only grumble after the service has been performed. They know that the best help is the cheapest all the time, save at the moment when they look at the aggregate reward in the lump. They know that a good hand is more profitable than two half hands, because the board of one can be saved. Now, the men who manufacture or engage in trade are the servants of the people as certainly as the Governor of the State or the county clerk. They combine materials and exchange goods for others simply because the others find it for their advantage to have them do it. I do not buy at the store because the merchant compels me, but because it is not profitable for me to keep store myself. By getting the manufacturer to take my wool and turn it into cloth I get more cloth. I create the manufacturer by asking him to help me to get the most cloth. In early times the shoemaker went from house to house with his lasts, leather, and patterns tied up in a sack and slung over his shoulder, and made and mended in the family kitchens. That kind of shoemaker