Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/251

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FALLACIES OF MODERN ECONOMISTS.

Now, take the case of machinery. In place of the old-fashioned wells, with the bucket and rope—the primitive method of drawing water—you have the pumps, boilers, steam engines, and reservoirs of a modern water-works. Similarly, instead of the ancient style of propelling boats by means of oars and paddles, you have the modern steam vessels. To say that machinery in these and endless other examples is "that which renders labor more productive or more efficient" is mere folly. Human labor is here wholly displaced, and the principal human exertion employed is that of a totally different nature, being transferred from the muscle to the mind. Instead of ten, twenty, forty, or a limitless number of human arms pulling on as many oars, you have one or two employed in watching indicators, water gauges, and other similar contrivances. And the principal manual exertion is that required in turning a valve. Even in the case of firing boilers, the recent inventions in fuel tend to abolish human exertion. The tendency of human ingenuity in the field of production is to wholly and totally abolish human labor. Machinery, therefore, becomes qualitatively the equivalent of labor, inasmuch as it supersedes it—does what men's muscles do, only more economically and efficiently. Speaking logically, we have no grounds for making any distinction in economics between labor and that which possesses precisely similar functions, viz., machinery. And so long as this is the case we have no reason, from an economical standpoint, to observe the slightest difference in our treatment of the results of each. In a division of the proceeds of capital and labor, dividing them in the ratio of the amount contributed by each, how small a share belongs equitably to labor, and how large an amount to machinery, a moment's thought will make clear.

Adam Smith stated that in his time ten men could make 48,000 needles per day. This was prior to the invention of the needle machine. This machine Karl Marx mentions as making 145,000 per day of eleven hours, and that "one woman or girl superintended four such machines, which produced near upon 600,000 needles in a day and upward of 3,000,000 in a week." It would be absurd to speak of this machinery making labor more productive. It has entirely displaced it, and the only human exertion required is that of the girl's superintendence, which is of a vastly different character from that of the men who made needles by hand, and is really of a lower order of skill and intelligence. Dividing the gross products in ratio of the two factors employed, we find that one girl and four machines are the equivalent to twelve and a half men. If we allow the girl's labor as equal to half a man's, we have four needle machines equal to twelve men, or one machine equal to three men. It is unnecessary to multiply examples. The tendency in mechanical inventions is to