Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/500

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omnipresent, and there is good reason to believe that current price movements portend an imminent check to the development and satisfaction of extravagant social desires. Collectively and individually, we are living better than ever before. We are working shorter hours, occupying better homes and cleaner cities, wearing better clothing, eating better food and being better educated—not only is this true of the wealthy and well-to-do, but of the poor and the indigent as well. But this rational form of "consuming-power" should not be confused with improvidence, or what has been associated in some minds with the alleged engulfing "cost of high living." Eational standards of living are justified by coextensive industrial efficiency. Progressive well-being tends to affect consumption and production in direct proportion; indeed, the stimulus to increased production normally exceeds the desire to spend, and no lasting influence towards advancing prices or costs results. If, however, expenditures are permitted to infringe upon the capital of the country, or of any particular group of the population, or even upon the rate of accumulation of savings, the effect on prices and costs will be immediate.

The centralization of industrial control, resulting in "wide-scale" enterprise and exclusive "occupation of the field," tends to eliminate output and advance costs. It makes little difference whether the differential advantage of centralization is of the nature of special privilege or superior efficiency of organization. In either case, industrial rivalry is forced from the field and, in the absence of official restraint, the exaction of monopoly charges is inevitable. The consequent shifting of the incidence of industrial returns may be ascertained by enumerating the respective beneficiaries and exploitees of the profit-taking process—the trade advantages of the one class measure the economic disability of the other class; and the attenuation of the incomes of the less favored, as a means to augment the profits of the more favored, is a significant attribute of changing social costs.

By the grace of strategic advantages of occupation and centralization, persons deriving incomes through proprietorship in relatively highly organized and capitalized industry are the recipients of differential gains which tend always to transcend price increments. Such persons are secure in the realization of a progressive ratio of purchasing power to prices. The so-called industrial and transportation trusts, the banking rings and investment pools, the labor unions and cooperative societies, and the associations of commission men and retail merchants are simply concerned in seeking to acquire the advantages of exclusion and organization. In each instance, united action for the elimination of waste and competition is the initial motive. "Cooperative efficiency in production" is the shibboleth of industrial organization; but one seldom fails to observe the tendency to a gradual metamorphosis of suc-