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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/266

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"It strikes me as queer," Floyd said at last quite bluntly. "Here is a plan conceived in the interests of the laboring-men—and all the definite provisions it makes are for the instant and enormous profits of the employers. Where does labor come in?"

"In a thousand ways," declared Colonel Halket. "My dear Floyd, you seem to have the uneducated theory of most men—that if something is done for the profit of the capitalist, it is at the expense of the laborer. Not at all; the prosperity of the one is the prosperity of the other. It is true that my plan provides for the realizing of large profits immediately by those who enter into it; but it is also true that in the larger, ultimate sense the great benefits resulting from its adoption will fall to labor. For it will mean the cessation of erratic, feverish competition, over-production, under-selling, periods of depression when men are laid off or discharged; those days will be at an end; there will come into existence an era of steady, equable employment for all. In comparison with so great and beneficent an achievement, what are the profits of a few hundred thousand, a few million dollars made by a handful of individuals?"

"Your reasoning almost turns my head, but it does n't get hold of me," Floyd said, with a laugh. "I think the beneficent results to labor that you see so clearly are very dim and doubtful. I think that the iron-workers themselves will distrust this move and regard it as a conspiracy to oppress them. So far from causing better feeling among them, I think you will make the feeling worse. And even granting that the ultimate end will be as you say; it seems to me you and Mr. Kerr are planning to achieve it by unjustifiable means."

"Perhaps you will be good enough to instruct me," said Colonel Halket, with tolerant sarcasm for this juvenile moralist.

"It was intimated pretty plainly in Mr. Kerr's remarks," Floyd answered. "You men who go into the com-