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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/77

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PENDING PROBLEMS FOR WAGE-EARNERS.

It has been proved by actual experiment on a large scale in certain sections of this country that ignorant foreign pauper labor in manufacturing industries is ultimately the most costly, and the aim of enlightened employers to-day is not to obtain the cheapest labor but the most intelligent service. The true policy of the workingman is, therefore, not agitation but education.[1]

The organization through the aid of capital of large industrial operations, superseding former small independent industries, is a frequent source of lamentation on the part of well-meaning philanthropists and others, on the theory that the small merchant has been injured thereby. This is probably true in isolated instances, but the evidence that the wage-earner (the subject of our discussion) has been benefited by improved regulations, superior factory buildings, and amelioration of exhausting toil, under modern methods, is overwhelming.

Moreover, the employment of large capital and improved machinery has enormously increased production and decreased cost to the consumer. Wages are higher and cost of living is lower than formerly. The average wage-earner in America lives today in a manner quite superior to the small manufacturer of former days. The large factories employ armies of skilled operatives many of whom would be incompetent to conduct even small industries successfully. They are reasonably insured of a fixed income, and are often enabled, by saving a portion of their wages, to become small capitalists themselves. Capital is, after all, nothing more than the aggregate savings of labor. The great financial operations are conducted by the aid of these savings of the masses, otherwise the thrifty workingman could receive no interest on his deposit in the savings bank. The individual millionaire is a much less important factor in the world's work than the socialistic agitator would have us believe.

The "good old times" are hallowed in our recollections and in our traditions, but when subjected to critical comparison with the improved civilization of modern times, we find, I think, that the


    of the people, whereby their producing powers may be still further increased. Next to America in the scale comes Great Britain, the producing power of which is 1,470 foot tons to the inhabitant daily. Germany's forces amount to 902 foot tons for each person daily, those of France to 910 foot tons, those of Spain to 590 foot tons, those of Austria to 560 foot tons, and those of Italy to 380 foot tons.

  1. Thomas Carlyle, in his essay on Labor, said: "The latest gospel In the world is. Know thy work and do it; . . . for labor is life; from the inmost heart of the worker rises this God-given force. . . . Knowledge, that will hold good in working, cleave thou to that, for Nature herself accredits that, says 'Yea' to that. Properly thou hast no other knowledge but what thou hast got by working; the rest is all a hypothesis of knowledge—a thing to be argued of in schools, a thing floating in the clouds, in endless logic vortices, 'till we try it and fix it.'"