Imágenes de páginas

son, in all their departments, the character of philosopher, inventor, and operator. He approximates to the civilized state, only in so far as he begins to confine himself to some particular calling. And it is always in the most advanced periods of civilization, that division of labor is carried to its ultimate limits.

But, besides this, the different parts of any operation may be analyzed; and to each part the whole labor of a single individual may be confined. Thus, the labor of making a pin may be divided into wire drawing, wire straightening, pointing, heading, tinning, &c. In Political Economy, labor is said to be divided, just in so far as these several processes are assigned to separate operators. It is found, by experience, that such an arrangement increases the productiveness of human labor to an extent, which, to a person who had not examined the facts, would appear wholly incredible. The principles on which this increased productiveness of labor depends, are the following:

1. Division of labor shortens the period required for learning an operation. The more complicated the operation, the longer is the time necessary for acquiring the skill requisite to the performing of it successfully. But this time spent in learning, is useless to the operator and to society, only in so far as it is necessary to the creation of the product. The longer the time necessary for learning an operation, the higher must be the wages of the operator, for the remainder of his life; and also, of course, the greater must be the price of his products. If this can be lessened, the price of course will fall. Now, that this is lessened, by division of labor, is evident from an obvious example. Suppose that a given process, say the making of nails, consists of seven operations; and that each of these operations required one year's practice, before it could be successfully performed. Now, if seven men were to learn this occupation, and each one were obliged to learn every operation, the time required would be 7 X 7=49 years; whereas, if each of them were required to learn but one, the time would be but 7 X 1=7, or, the difference would be, 49—7=42 years of human labor, or six-sevenths of the whole time, which would thus be saved. There would be six years more of productive labor, in the life of each of these men; and, as they had spent less time in acquiring their art, they could afford to exercise it for lower wages.

Besides, there is, intimately connected with this cause, another, of considerable importance. Every one, in learning an art, must, by unskillfulness, destroy a considerable portion of capital. And this amount of capital will be in proportion to the number of operations which he is obliged to learn. Thus, suppose that a man learns seven operations, and, in learning each, destroys ten dollars' worth of capital, the amount which he will destroy, in acquiring his whole trade, will be 7 X 10=70. If he have to learn but one, it will be but ten dollars; and thus, the difference will be 70—10=60 dollars, upon every such individual. A difference, so great as these two combined, when spread over the whole face of society, will have no inconsiderable effect upon the annual nett revenue of a community.

2. When one man performs all the operations required in a complicated process, much time is lost in passing from one operation to another. By division of labor, this loss is avoided.

The effect of habit is known to every one. ders any operation easy, which is frequently repeated. The mind and the muscles become adapted to a particular form of labor; but, if that form of labor be suspended, and our attention be directed to another, it requires a considerable time before we can acquire a different habit, and, in the mean time, the good effects of the preceding habit, are, to a considerable degree, lost. Hence, he who is frequently passing from one occupation to another, is in the condition of nim who is, during his whole life, form

It ren

ing habits ; and never in the condition of him, who has the advantage of habits already formed. Besides, this long habit produces in the muscles a capacity for continued exertion. He who is in the habit of performing an operation, can perform it, without sensible fatigue, for hours together. Every one who has ever sawed wood, or used a spade in a garden, is sensible of this fact. Now, all this advantage is lost, by frequently turning from one operation to another.

3. Where complicated tools are to be used, and there is no division of labor, much time is also lost in adjusting them to the different kinds of work. By division of labor, this disadvantage is obviated. Suppose that nails, of different sizes, are to be made, and it is necessary that the machinery, in order to adapt it to the different kinds of work, should be frequently adjusted; the time so occupied produces nothing, and is lost. If, on the contrary, one machine is permanently used for the manufacture of nails of one particular size, all this loss is avoided. This is also more obvious, when the adjustment involves expense; as, for instance, when a furnace is used. If a furnace be heated, and then suffered to cool while the operator is performing some other labor, the fuel consumed, after he leaves it, and that which is used to bring it again to the requisite temperature, are a total loss, in addition to that of the time and labor required in kindling the fire, and in waiting for the rise of temperature. By dividing the labor, so that one person shall be always employed at the furnace, whilst others are employed at other parts of the process, much capital and labor will be saved.

4. By constantly pursuing the same occupation, a degree of skill and dexterity is acquired, which greatly increases the productiveness of human labor. This advantage is lost, by employing the same individual upon several operations. Adam Smith informs us, that a blacksmith, who occasionally makes


nails, but whose whole business is not that of a nailmaker, can make but from eight hundred to one thousand nails a day; whilst a lad, who has never exercised any other trade, can make upwards of twenty-three hundred a day. All who have been accustomed to visit manufactories, must have been surprised to observe the dexterity which is acquired, even by children, in performing the operations in which they are exclusively engaged. It is probable that the performers of jugglery, or sleight-of-hand, derive their skill almost entirely from this cause. They seldom perform more than a few operations, but by practicing these, and these alone, for a great length of time, they at last attain to a proficiency, which, to a spectator, is incomprehensible.

5. Division of labor suggests the contrivance of tools for the performance of the operation in which it is employed.

The more completely any process is analyzed, the simpler must become the individual operations of which it is composed : and the simpler any operation is, the easier is it to contrive a tool, or an adjustment, by which it may be performed. Adam Smith informs us, that, in the first steam engines, boys were constantly employed to open a communication between the boiler and cylinder, according as the piston ascended or descended. One of these boys observed, that, by uniting the handle of the valve which opened this communication with another part of the machine, the valve would open and shut without his assistance, and leave him at liberty to play with his fellows. One of the most important improvements of this machine was thus, by division of labor, brought within the capacity of a playful boy. It would have been very difficult to invent machinery for the making of nails, when all the processes were considered as a complicated whole. “But after the several operations are divided, and are assigned to individuals separately, it becomes comparatively easy to construct an adjustment, by

which any one of them, singly, could be performed. This is the first step in invention. But this is not all.

After these several single instruments have been invented, the next step is to combine them together. This is the most finished effort of mechanical genius. This is the principal difference between a tool and a machine. A tool performs one single operation; a machine combines several tools together, and accomplishes either the whole, or a considerable part, of a complicated process.

6. Every one, at all acquainted with manufacturing employments, must have observed, that some of the operations, in a given process, require greater muscular power, or greater skill, or greater dexterity than others. Some, for instance, can be performed only by the most experienced workmen, while others can be perfectly well performed by children. Now, by division of labor a manufacturer is enabled to employ, upon each operation, precisely the labor adapted to it, and is obliged to pay for each portion of ihe labor no more than it is actually worth. This must greatly diminish the cost of production. Thus, the manufacture of pins is divided into ten different operations, and each operation employs one laborer. But some of those laborers are men; others are women and children; and their wages vary from six shillings to four and a half pence sterling a day. If the labor were not divided, one person must understand the whole process, and, therefore, must be employed at the highest price of labor; and hence, he must be paid at the rate of six shillings a day, for that part of the work which is worth only four and a half pence a day. Every one must see that this would greatly increase the price of pins, and also occasion a great deficiency in labor. It is by this means, also, that occupation is provided for the weak and the aged, for females and for children, who would, otherwise, be unable to earn any thing. Thus, all the labor of the community is rendered productive, and an immense amount is annually

« AnteriorContinuar »