Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/252

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totally displace labor, both, manual and mental. Each improvement in machinery tends to make it more and more automatic, self-governing, and the least intelligent person is usually found capable of running some kind of machinery.

The socialist admits that the vast production of wealth which has characterized the past century is due to labor-saving machinery. But he claims that this machinery is in itself the product of labor, which it unquestionably is. He argues, however, that the inventor has no right to the exclusive enjoyment of his ideas.

If inventions were the creation of all the members of a society equally, each would be entitled to his share of the product equally, and our economist would be right. But such is not the case. Supposing in a community a number of men are engaged in weaving a certain kind of fabric by hand. After a time, by careful thought, study, and years of experimenting during his evenings, one of them succeeds in constructing a machine capable of weaving in a day as much of the fabric as ten men can do in the same time; and, supposing the amount of manual power to operate this machine is the exact amount expended by one man in his ordinary day's task, then this man and his machine perform the work of ten men in an equal time, and if he only work it one hour he has produced what previously occupied him one day. He may therefore work one hour per day and get the same return as before, or by working one day get the produce of ten men. Supposing he offers to one of the other men the privilege of working this machine in his place, which, requires no greater expenditure of labor on this man's part than the work he is engaged on, and the man accepts. The inventor of the machine may offer him the produce of two days' labor as an incentive to accept employment from him. The inventor then becomes a capitalist, an employer, and gets his ten days' produce, paying his employee two days, and retaining eight himself, for which he himself does nothing. Practically his work has ceased after inventing, designing, and constructing the machine. Is it an act of injustice for him to claim the product of the machine which is his invention? And if he build one machine and employ one man, may he not build two and employ two men, and carry this on until his machines supply the entire demand? And may he not transfer his interest, or part of an interest, to another, and another, until you have a number of idle men living off the produce of the labor of the machines and employees? There is in this nothing unjust from an economical standpoint, for this man has taken nothing which did not originate with him.

But, says the reformer, were it not for the protection afforded the inventor by society, the privilege he artificially enjoys, these employees would build their own machines and each man be his