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.