Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/618

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

1870 of a million dollars could be afforded in 1894 for a like cost of $444,444. Another striking illustration of the present cheapness of manufactured articles per unit and as measured in terms of labor payments per hour or day, compared with former recent periods, and as the result of present industrial conditions, is found in the statement that wire nails are now so cheap that, if a carpenter drops a nail, it is cheaper to let it lie than take time to pick it up; and the correctness of which has been demonstrated as follows: "Assuming that it takes a carpenter ten seconds to pick up a nail which he has dropped, and that his time is worth thirty cents per hour, the recovery of the dropped nail would cost 0·083 cent. There are two hundred sixpenny nails in a pound, and they are worth on an average 1·55 cent per pound, making the value of one nail 0·0077 cent. In other words, it would not pay to pick up ten nails at the assumed loss of time and rate of pay of the carpenter."

On the other hand, wages have increased in the United States since 1870 in an approximative ratio with the increase in the effectiveness of labor in producing commodities, and touched the highest point ever known about the year 1890. During the same period debtors have gained greatly by the decrease in the cost of living, and a consequently increased opportunity for laying up a surplus for meeting tax demands and other purposes. The assumption that the comparatively recent fall in the price of commodities in the United States has increased the burden of taxation upon its people, therefore merits the characterization of being one of the most irrational and fictitious of popular economic fallacies.


Some interesting facts concerning the Hausas and their country in Africa were communicated to a recent meeting of the Royal Geographical Society by Mr. J. A. Robinson and Mr. William Wallace. Mr. Robinson has paid much attention to the language and literature of the people. Nearly all of them have learned to write in the Mohammedan schools, and business is largely done by correspondence. An association has been formed to promote the study of the language; and a college is talked of to be established at Tripoli. Mr. Robinson has brought back specimens of native literature, of which a volume is to be published. Crops of many kinds are raised, of which Mr. Wallace names fourteen specifically, with others; and large stocks of horses are kept. At Farra, the chief seat of the iron trade, Mr. Wallace visited the smelting furnaces, but was not allowed to see the mines from which the iron ore is dug. At Jaga he found an important commercial town, with large pottery works and dje works, and industries in iron and leather, A part of the country, which was once very prosperous, is, however, now a retreat for robbers, who keep the neighboring region in terror. Mr. Wallace affirmed that peace and freedom only are needed to convert Hausaland into another India.