Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/273

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THE SOCIAL PROBLEM

tinue, conditions here must approximate those in the crowded areas of Europe. With increasing surplus of work-seekers, wages must decrease. Severe restriction of immigration should come and come quickly. It is not the duty of those already here to impoverish themselves in an effort to support the distressed or dissatisfied of all lands. Even the golden rule does not require that a man love his neighbor better than himself; and the Apostle Paul, that champion of generosity and self-denial, asserts that whoso careth not for his own is worse than an infidel, he has denied the faith. But restriction of immigration is not enough; the surplus population is already here; our cities are overcrowded with utterly unskilled labor—it is estimated that in New York city alone there are 100,000 unemployed clerks; the great problem is already with us.

Some maintain that the problem is purely ethical; they assert that the law of supply and demand should not be considered in connection with employment; that if employers would consider properly the interests of their employees all difficulties would soon be of the past. But this is purely academic. No doubt conditions would be improved greatly in some respects if the golden rule were the standard of conduct; but it must be remembered that selfishness is not confined to employers and that the sermon should not be preached to them alone. When man's nature has been so changed that each will endeavor to do his full duty, the time will have come for essays on ethics. But as long as the employer seeks to get as much and the employee seeks to give as little as possible for the wages, discussion of the ethical side will remain academic. In any event, it is irrelevant now; it concerns only those for whom there is work; it offers no relief to the increasing number of those for whom no work exists.

The socialist has his remedies. He tells us that all men should have equality of opportunity; that no man should control another's opportunity; that every worker should receive such wages as would enable him to live in comfort according to the American standard.

The implication that opportunities are not equal in this land is so contrary to fact that one can not believe that it is made in good faith. Hardly a quarter of a century has passed since the impoverished Russian immigrants first set foot on our shore, yet they already own much of the lower east side in Manhattan and great tracts in other boroughs. It is conceded that the conditions for some kinds of unskilled labor are terribly bad; one dollar a dozen for making shirts, sixty cents a dozen for making bedspreads, tell the story of misery; but not of slavery. Such sad conditions tell only of competition for work, that awful temptation to the selfishness of employers and of purchasers; they tell only that there are too many workers and too little work; but they do not lead to the suggestion that there should be no employers. And