Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/603

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A BUGBEAR OF ECONOMICS

likewise know that the 650 bushels are being produced, and that everybody has more to eat than formerly. If pragmatism is justified anywhere it is in such considerations.

A farmer recently told me that his father paid for his farm, fifty years ago, by carrying the mail from Jackson to Grand Rapids, Mich., one hundred miles, taking just a week for the round trip. All the information he carried could now be transmitted by wire in three minutes and the increase in the amount now transmitted per man in the mail service per week is represented by a geometrical progression with a tremendous ratio. From this same farm his father hauled his wheat thirty-five miles to Jackson, taking approximately fifteen hundred pounds to the load, and requiring three days for the round trip. The Michigan Central freight can now transport wheat at least sixty thousand times faster; so that even though the most liberal division be made as to the part contributed by an equivalent of a single man and team now, a man's productivity is multiplied several thousand times. This is what we add instead of an "equal dose." It may be claimed, however, that the introduction of the railroad brought a period of phenomenal increasing returns, but that they were not maintained. It is a fact that there has not been an increase in speed at all in proportion to the outlay devoted to increasing speed, and the law of diminishing returns seems herein to be finely illustrated. However, increase in transportation does not mean simply increase in speed, but much more, it means number and extent of persons and things that can be transported in a given time. The number of people who have been brought into participation in transportation through the extension of the railroads, the increase in the power of locomotives, and the organization of the systems, demonstrates that the rate of progress has been continuous and of the same radical character as the change from stage-coach to express train. The exhibition of increasing returns is multifarious. During the Boer War I received the evening paper in an interior city at five thirty p.m. and read of battles that occurred at six o'clock that same afternoon in South Africa. This was in Tennessee near the home of Andrew Jackson who fought the battle of New Orleans after the war was over, and he did not then hear of peace until several weeks after it had been declared.

Increase in units of production does not consist merely of adding similar units. The saving of time by rapid transportation and intercommunication, the organization of capital so that it may be turned over several times where formerly it could perform but one service, makes a multiplication almost inconceivable, and every one knows that in the region of invention and organization we are just beginning to open up discoveries for entry; while the division of labor and the application of the processes of efficiency-engineering give a potentiality to the present units of labor that is revolutionary. If we will project our