Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/272

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by increasing the number of those for whom the world has decreasing need. Here the problem concerns only the United States, where the young are fleeing from the farm and are flocking to the cities, already overstocked with unskilled labor of every sort. Actually, the problem concerns the cities alone; it is practically unknown elsewhere.

Those who urge that immigration should be restricted or even prohibited are told that not all immigrants are undesirable—and that is true. Pioneer immigrants from any land are apt to be the best of their race. Those who came from northwestern Europe were, mostly, uneducated and without property; but they dared leave the home of their ancestors and braved the dangers of an unknown land; they thought for themselves and worked with high aims; they made their way and they made the United States. But a very great proportion of immigrants arriving during later years have come because others have proved that the experiment is more than safe. And in too many cases they bring with them erroneous ideals of personal liberty and false conceptions respecting relations of the government to the citizen.

It has been said that this country has need of every able-bodied immigrant who is willing to work; but this a sad misconception of the conditions. Even were the incomers agriculturists there would be room for but a small number, unless all our methods were revolutionized—a process requiring a long period. The available cheap land has been taken up—were there land remaining it would be unavailable, as few of the incomers have enough money to purchase equipment for even a small farm. The assertion that agricultural laborers are in constant demand is an error; for that demand exists only during the brief period of harvest and it is decreasing each year with increasing use of machinery. The acreage of crops is greater than ever, the crops themselves are of greater magnitude than ever before; yet the agricultural population shows steady diminution because fewer workers are needed. One must recognize that there is a limit to any country's capacity to furnish work and that the limit has been reached in this land. For years, the United States could utilize half a million newcomers each year, but its ability in that direction ceased before 1906. During the remarkable building "boom" of 1905, there was not work enough in New York city for the resident bricklayers and masons. In spite of shrewd management by trades unions, there were many skilled workmen who wandered through the streets, seeking work and finding none. Even then, in the midst of superabounding prosperity, was heard the demagogue's cry that work should be supplied by the government, that the scandal might be removed. But the influx still continues; nearly 1,000,000 immigrants arrived during the first half of 1910.

There are great dangers in unrestricted immigration. If it con-