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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/525

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THE COMPETITION OF THE UNITED STATES.

The cost of mining coal has increased in Britain as in other European countries, whereas it has decreased in America. In 1885 the average price of European coal at the mine was $1.62, and in the United States $1.58; in 1899 the European price was $1.96, while that in the United States had fallen to $1.10. The average depth of the seams in America is much less and their width is considerably greater. It is remarkable that though the output of the mines of the United Kingdom was less in 1901 than in 1900, the number of employees was 24,661 greater. This increase was, I believe, entirely in the coal mines, in which the decrease of output was over six million tons.

Of course the character of the two peoples counts for much. The power of the initiative of the American, his shrewdness and his energy give him an advantage and contrast with the Englishman's inertness, self-complacency and policy of laissez faire. A case was cited in the London Mining Journal of a firm in Australasia that sent to a British firm for a catalogue of prices. Instead of sending the catalogue, the British firm wrote for evidence of the bona fides of the presumable customer. The latter thereupon sent to the United States and received three large and well illustrated catalogues, and so became a customer of the American firm. It is safe to say that the majority of colonial merchants would prefer to deal with Britain if they could obtain the goods they require at the same cost and with the same ease and quickness, but sentiment must not be too much strained.

Not only is the British merchant slow to adapt himself to the wants of his customers, but the British manufacturer is slow to change old processes and to adopt new machinery. Workmen are seldom encouraged to suggest improvements in methods and machinery as they are in the United States. It is fair to say that British workmen are not very ready to make suggestions for the improvement of machinery since they have a prejudice against machinery, though any that come to America, where they find it an advantage to exercise their ingenuity, show that they can compete in inventiveness with their fellow-workmen in the United States. In Britain, however, workmen, as a rule, look upon machinery as a disadvantage. They consider that an improved machine means less hand work, and that the machine takes the bread out of the mouth of the honest laborer.

In 1901 there were in Britain no more than 311 coal cutting machines in use, while in Pennsylvania alone there were 3,125, or ten times as many. In the United States there was an output of 493 tons per man employed, in Britain only 318 tons.

The English workmen will not use machines at their full capacity, even when the machines are provided. Most of the British match factories, being under American control, use American machinery; but