« AnteriorContinuar »
for there would be no additional capital with which to maintain them. The young must therefore emigrate, or else there will be a competition among laborers for work, and thus wages will fall. But, suppose, that by some new mode of increased productiveness, the capital be increased in a single year, twenty-five per cent., there will then be a demand for the industry of a greater number, say twentyfive additional laborers; since this additional capital can produce nothing, unless it be united with labor. If there be not twenty-five additional laborers to be immediately procured, wages must rise, because there will be a competition among capitalists for labor; and children and persons, who with the former prices could earn nothing, will now be employed. And, if the demand for labor, arising from this increase of capital, could not be thus supplied, those engaged in less profitable employment in other districts, and other countries, would come in to supply the deficiency. Such is always seen to be the fact. Population follows capital. It goes where capital goes, and it concentrates where capital accumulates, and it retires when capital retires. And hence, in a whole country, where the number of inhabitants is limited, the increase of capital must raise the rate of wages. And hence, by just so much as increased productiveness of labor increases the amount of capital, it must also tend to raise the price of labor throughout a whole country. That is to say, the obvious tendency of the use of natural agents is, to increase the wages of laborers in general.
3. But, the tendency of the use of machinery is to increase the wages of laborers, in that very department of industry, in which they are employed. The reason for this is obvious. Reduction of price produces an additional demand, more than sufficient to compensate for the diminished amount of labor necessary for the creation of the particular product. That this must always be the case, can, I think, be conclusively shown.
Suppose that with the present machinery, one hundred men are able to manufacture cotton cloth at fifty cents per yard, and that the amount which they produce is precisely sufficient to supply the wants of the district for which they labor. At this price, no consumers, but those worth one thousand dollars per year, can afford to purchase cotton cloth, and, of course, the demand is limited exclusively to them. Suppose now, that improved machinery enables fifty men to manufacture as large an amount of cotton cloth as one hundred men could manufacture before, and the consequence is, that cotton cloth is sold at twenty-five cents per yard. It is evident, that if the demand be precisely doubled, there will be wanted just as many laborers as before; so that their condition will be in no manner altered, except by change of labor, with its correspondent advantages, and the gradual rise of wages, spoken of above. And, it is also evident, that every degree of increase of demand, beyond what is sufficient to produce this equilibrium, must be for the benefit of those engaged in this sort of labor.
But it is evident, for several reasons, that the reduction of price one half, must more than double the demand for cotton cloth. Thus, when the price was fifty cents per yard, only those consumers who were worth one thousand dollars per year, could purchase cotton cloth; and the sale was, of course, limited to them. But now that it is at twenty-five cents, the class worth only five hundred dollars per year is just as able to purchase it, as those worth one thousand were formerly. Now, if this class were only of the same number as that worth one thousand, the demand would be doubled, and, of course, the laborer would suffer no injury. But the fact is, that the class worth five hundred dollars, is three or four times as large as that worth one thousand. Hence, by all this difference, the laborer is the gainer, and a larger number of laborers is required. But this is not all. There are various classes, between those worth one thousand dollars and those worth five hundred dollars, who are now able to purchase the article, as, those of nine hundred, eight hundred, seven hundred, and six hundred, each one of them being larger than the class of first purchasers. All these unite to increase the demand for this kind of labor. And again: The class worth one thousand dollars will now use a much larger amount of cotton cloth than formerly; and cotton cloth will now be used for purposes to which it could never before have been appropriated, and it will supersede the use of many articles, with which it could never before have come into competition. All this is to be added to the benefits conferred, by the introduction of machinery, or by increasing the productiveness of labor, upon the laborers in this particular department. Every one must see that this benefit, thus resulting from increase of demand, which is the thing now under consideration, is absolutely incalculable.
It may be said, that this is an exaggerated case. I answer: The case is not given for the sake of accuracy in numbers, but for the sake of illustrating a manifest tendency. And, that, in this respect it is accurate, the whole history of manufactures bears ample testimony. Compare those states of society in which machinery is not used, with those in which it is used, and inquire in which of them the wages of the laborer are higher, and in which his habitation displays the greater number of comforts, and in which his shelf is covered with the greater number of books. Examine the statistics of a particular branch of manufacture, and inquire in what period there has been, in proportion to the whole population, the greatest number of laborers required in that particular manufacture. Has this demand for this particular kind of labor been greater in the period when natural agents and machinery have been used, or in that in which they have not been used? The answer to these questions is given in the history of the progress of the cotton manufacture, the manufacture of books, of nails, of pins, and every other article of common use: and such articles alone are of any consequence in such an estimate. This shows that the above illustration is true, so far as it teaches the tendency, which is all that is necessary in the present case.
But this is not all. Suppose the demand for cotton cloth to be doubled, there must be twice the amount of cotton produced; twice as many vessels built, to transport it; twice as many men to navigate them; besides the number of men required to construct machinery to fabricate it. Suppose the number of books be doubled; there must be twice as much paper made, twice as many rags purchased, twice as many types made, and twice as much transportation required for the supply of the market. All this must add to the demand for labor, and must tend, by just so much, to increase the wages of the operative. And hence, if these considerations be compared, it will be seen:
1. That the introduction of machinery reduces the price of articles of consumption; that is, renders the wages, whatever they may be, of the operative, of more value.
2. That, by the more rapid multiplication of capital, it produces a greater demand for labor in general, that is, it makes the wages of all labor greater ; and
3. That its tendency is to create an increased demand for labor; that is, to produce a rise of wages in that department of industry, into which natural agents are specially introduced; and it does this according to the degree in which they are introduced. That is, in general, the introduction of machinery renders the wages of the laborer more valuable; it raises the wages of labor in general, and raises the wages of labor specially, in that department in which natural agents are employed. What any man can reasonably ask for, more than this, I do not distinctly perceive.
II. The effects of increased productiveness upon
consumers may be easily explained, on the principles already illustrated. I need not, therefore, large upon this subject, as it has already been so frequently alluded to.
1. By increased productiveness, every consumer is richer; that is, he is able, by the same amount of labor, to procure a greater amount of the objects of desire. This is evidently the same thing to him, as though his income were increased. If I am able, this year, with two hundred dollars, to purchase as much as I could purchase last year for four hundred dollars, and I can earn two hundred dollars, as easily as before, it is precisely the same thing, as if, at the former prices, my wages had risen from two hundred to four hundred dollars.
2. Production is more perfect. This has already been illustrated, as one of the effects of the use of machinery; that is, the consumer not only obtains more of the same article for the same sum of money, but he also obtains a better article. Every one must have observed, that calicoes, crockery, and many other articles of ordinary consumption, are not only much cheaper, but also much more beautiful, than they were a few years since.
3. A vast number of articles is thus added to the means of happiness of the human race, of which, otherwise, they must, from necessity, have been deprived. All that we possess, above the comforts of the naked savage, is the result of the use of natural agents, and of division of labor; that is, of the increased productiveness of human labor.
4. Nor is this all. While all the labor of man-is necessary to support mere physical existence, there can be no opportunity for intellectual cultivation. As soon, however, he arrives at that condition of productiveness of labor, in which he is able to provide for his physical wants, with less than all his time and effort, opportunity is afforded for intellectual developement. At this point, commences the dawn of intellectual improvement. As increased