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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/76

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64
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

have no cause to be ashamed thereof. Socialism can offer no commensurate advantages; its tendency is not to raise the masses to a higher plane, but to reduce the competent to the level of the incompetent. The world is always crowded with incompetent operatives, while there is at the same time an unsatisfied demand for the absolutely competent.

In daily friendly intercourse with workingmen, extending over a period of twenty years, I have found a prevalent idea in many minds that employers of labor are, as a class, jealous of the material advancement of wage-earners beyond a certain point; that a maximum wage is soon reached beyond which they can not hope to pass, and that extra effort on their part would result merely in an increase of tasks without a corresponding increase of pay. This impression is more generally inculcated in the minds of operatives than employers realize, and it operates to their mutual disadvantage. Modern "piece-work" systems of pay have been devised (and are now generally practiced) with a view of stimulating workmen to produce the greatest output and largest percentage of perfect work; but these elaborate systems are to a certain extent rendered inoperative by reason of the suspicion mentioned. That there may have been, and may still be, some ground for such impressions I do not dispute, but I do believe that a more enlightened view of the mutual relations existing between employer and employee is gradually permeating the industrial world.

The great development of mechanical invention has not only increased the demand for skilled labor by increasing the output and opening constantly new fields of labor, but it has increased tenfold, and in some instances one hundredfold, the possible product of labor per capita. This is the reason why the American employer, paying the highest wages in the world, is nevertheless able to compete in the markets of Europe with so-called "pauper labor" in many manufactured articles.[1]


  1. Mr. Mulhall, the English statistician, has recently published some tables relating to the producing power of the different nations of the earth. They show an enormous increase during the latter half of the century of the productive power of the people of this country, and they prove, moreover, that no other nations possess equal producing power per caput. By the figures which he has tabulated Mr. Mulhall shows that from 1820 to 1890 the "foot-ton" power of the United States increased from 4,292,000,000 of foot tons daily to 129,306,000,000 foot tons. A foot ton is a method that statisticians have of measuring the producing powers of a country. It signifies the ability of a man to accomplish with ordinary exertion in ten hours an amount of work equal to raising 300 tons one foot high. In 1820 the forces at the command of the Americans were equal to 446 foot tons of power per caput of the population. By 1890 the productive forces had increased to 1,940 foot tons per caput. These forces are now busily engaged in developing the resources of the country, in cultivating the soil, working the mines, operating the industries, carrying on the commerce, or in looking after the development of the mental powers and the enlightenment