I do not need to explain that this extreme statement of the case only holds good for the lowest grades of labour of which there is a practically unlimited supply. As soon as the labourer acquires special skill his work has the added value that comes from a limitation in the supply, and the overwhelming advantage of capital is slightly counteracted. This accounts for the reasonable ascending scale of rewards for labour noticed at first. The despotic position of the owners is still more effectually diminished when many non-owners unite and make a single bargain, thus controlling the supply of labour artificially. Though the terms on which the non-owners are able to get access to the wealth of the owners are much more favourable when the former act as a unit, one has only to compare the conditions of life of, for example, the members of the United Mine Workers with those of the presidents of the coal-carrying railroads who employ them, in order to form some notion of the degree of equality in bargaining attained even under these most favourable conditions for the non-owners.
After all the modifying factors have been taken into consideration, it remains generally true that
wealth-producing wealth may give to its owners
- For a full discussion of this subject see Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Industrial Democracy, Part III., Chapters ii. and iii., or The Case for the Factory Acts, edited by Mrs. Sidney Webb.