Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/310

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

with better articles at less expense. And they have intensified competition, the railways bringing to a community similar products from factories situated remote from each other, in many instances placing the output of each center of production of certain merchandise in competition in all parts of the United States with the output of each other center of production of that kind of merchandise. Contributing to this result have been the efforts of the salesmen of the different establishments, who, in the desire to extend the sale of their products, have underbid their competitors, who, in turn, have been obliged to lower their prices, this rivalry usually continuing until the selling price has been lowered to and sometimes below the actual cost of production. This competition is beneficial to a community as a whole so long as it compels all the processes of an industry to be conducted with thrift; and it has been beneficial when it has forced at places the cessation of certain production that could not withstand the pressure of competition of similar production from localities more favorably conditioned. But it has been injurious when, after forcing producers in most favored localities to the adoption of every reasonable economy, it has compelled them to dispose of their products at unremunerative prices. It has been injurious when many producers, each striving to dispose of the greatest possible output, have placed upon the market products far in excess of the quantity for which there is a natural and wholesome demand, thereby oftentimes forcing stoppage of production, depriving men of work until the excess is consumed, and oftentimes leading salesmen to persuade unwary merchants to make purchases so large that they are crushed beneath their weight, or tempted to defraud their creditors out of payment therefor. It has been injurious when the strife for the disposition of products has become so fierce that the energies of producers have been absorbed in fighting competition, to the neglect of the orderly and equitable administration of the vital details of production; when it has led them to make misrepresentations as to the quality of their products; when, in the desire to produce cheap articles, it has led to the adulteration of material and scrubby workmanship. It has been injurious when it has reduced the wages of employees to a point inadequate to the support of themselves and their families. Misrepresentation, adulteration, and inferior workmanship have often proceeded from cupidity and lack of scruple, but unrestrained competition feeds their noxious growth.

As with all things else, industrial competition, when carried to the extreme, meets opposing forces that bring reaction, and, as with all things else, the play of mutually opposing forces tends toward equilibrium. Equilibrium between the forces that affect industrial competition is that condition under which industrial