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Brassey's father was perhaps the greatest "captain of industry" the world has ever seen, having been engaged, between and , in the construction of railways in England, France, Saxony, Austria, Hungary, Moldavia, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Canada, Australia, the Argentine Republic, Syria, Persia, and India. The chief value of Mr. Brassey and his agents; and we are told how the men of these various nationalities acquitted themselves in their respective employments.
Contrasting the wages paid on an English railway, 3 s. Brassey remarks, "Yet with this immense difference in the rate of wages, sub-contracts on the Irish railway were let at the same prices which had been previously paid in South Staffordshire. It has been found that in this description of work the English miner surpasses the foreigner all over the world.source url
struwwelpeters geschwister original scan german edition Manual
On the Continent, long after earth-work and all the other operations involved in the construction of railways had been committed to the native workmen, English miners were still employed in the tunnels. At those different rates, the Englishman was found to be the most advantageous workman of the three. Such differences in industrial efficiency as have been indicated may exist not only between nations, but between geographical sections of the same people.
The very minute Edition: Dupin in the early part of this century seemed to establish a decided superiority in productive power of the artisans of northern over those of southern France. In England the superiority of the agricultural population of the northern counties is unmistakably very great. Walter Bagehot, in the Economist, 15 "to put down as equal the day's hire of a Dorsetshire laborer and that of a Lincolnshire laborer. It would be like having a general price for steam-engines not specifying the horse-power.
The Lincolnshire man is far the more efficient man of the two. From a single page of the Report for of the Commission on the Employment of Children, Women and Young Persons in Agriculture, I extract the following testimony respecting the inefficiency of the laborers of Berkshire: In view of such wide differences in the productive power of individuals, communities, and peoples, no attempt at a philosophy of wages can omit to inquire into the causes of the varying efficiency of labor.
These causes I shall enumerate under six heads; but the possible effect of no one cause will be fully apprehended unless it be held constantly in mind that the value of the laborer's services to the employer is the net result of two elements, one positive, one negative, namely, work and waste; that in some degree waste, using the term in its broadest sense to express the breakage and the undue wear and tear of implements and machinery, the destruction or impairment of materials, 18 the cost of supervision and oversight to keep men from idling or blundering, and, finally, the hinderance of many by the fault or failure of one, 19 is inseparable from work; and that, with the highly finished products of our modern industry, with its complicated and often delicate machinery, and its costly materials, themselves perhaps the result of many antecedent processes, it is frequently a question of Edition: The various causes which go to create differences in industrial efficiency may be grouped under six heads, as follows:.
The first reason which we are called to recognize for the great differences in industrial efficiency which exist among men is found in peculiarities of stock and breeding. Of the causes which have produced such widely diverse types of manhood as the Esquimaux, the Hottentot, and the Bengalee at the one extreme, and the Frenchman, the Englishman, and the American of to-day at the other, 21 it is not necessary to speak here at all. The effects of local climate and national food, continued through generations, upon the physical structure, have become so familiar to the public through the writings of geographers and ethnologists that they may fairly be assumed for our present purpose.
The scope and power of these causes are far more likely to Edition: But we have also to recognize large differences as existing between far advanced and highly civilized peoples as to average height, strength, manual dexterity, accuracy of vision, health, and longevity.
Thus, for example, the mean height of the Belgian male was given by MM. Such differences in stature exist as well between sections of the same country; thus the Breton peasants are notably deficient even as measured by the low French standard; while the proportion of "tall men" i. At the same time, the largest proportion of rejections for unsoundness was among the Irish, the least among the Scotch.
There is reason to suspect that these are all pitched a little high. Among the sections of the American Union the difference in mean weight, as determined by measurements during the war, , was very decided. Thus of men weighed in health, those from New-England averaged Such and other physical differences on which it is not needful to dwell are due in part to the influences of local climate and national diet, but in part, also, to causes social and industrial.
Of social causes ample, in their aggregate effect, to produce much of the difference between the Englishman and the Frenchman of to-day, may be instanced the war system, by which, in France, the principle of natural selection has been violently reversed, and the men of superior size, strength, and courage have, generation after generation, been shut up in barracks or torn to pieces on the battle-field, while the feebler males have been left at home to propagate the stock.
It is beyond question that not a little of the difference in industrial efficiency which makes a French navvy dear at 3 francs, while an English navvy is cheap at 5 s. During the same Edition: Among the industrial causes tending to create such differences in laboring power we may instance the employment of children of tender age at hard labor and under circumstances of exposure; and the employment of women, first, in work wholly unsuited to their sex, as formerly in England in mines, where they were even harnessed with cattle to loads of ore, and as now on the pit-banks and coke-hearths, and, secondly, at their ordinary work with too short an interval after childbearing.
Looked at with no eye of charity, but with a strictly economical regard, such acts as these constitute a horrible waste of industrial force, both in the present and in their effects on the laboring power of the next generation. At the meeting of the Social Science Association in , Mr. George Smith presented a lump of clay weighing 43 lbs. Smith, "was taken from the child, and the calculations made by me, in the presence of both master and men. A boy, now 11, who went at 9 years old to hardening and tempering crinoline steel, worked there from 7 A. Another, at 9 years old, sometimes made three hour shifts running, and, when 10, has made two days and two nights running.
Another, now 13, at a former place worked from 6 P. Nor is it only in mines or factories, in a stifling atmosphere and amid poisonous exhalations, that children are, even yet, in happy England, exposed to the influences which stunt, distort, and weaken them, and lower the average vitality of the population, and with this its industrial efficiency.
The driving of children six, eight, and ten years 27 afield to work for 12 and 14 hours, whether under a hot sun or against chilling, cutting winds, must tend to disorganize the cartilages of the joints, to produce curvature of the spine, to dwarf the growth, and to prepare the way for an early breaking down from rheumatism and scrofula. I repeat I have not adduced these facts and incidents for charity's sake, or in any sentimental vein, but wholly for their economical significance, and I propose to use them in strict subordination to recognized economical principles. A further reason for the greater industrial efficiency of one laborer than of another, and of one class or nation of laborers than of another, is a most vulgar one, namely, better Edition: The human stomach is to the animal frame what the furnace is to the steam-engine.
It is there the force is generated which is to drive the machine. The power with which an engine will work will, up to a certain point, increase with every addition made to the fuel in the furnace; and, within the limits of thorough digestion and assimilation, it is equally true that the power which the laborer will carry into his work will depend on the character and amount of his food.
What the employer will get out of his workman will depend, therefore, very much on what he first gets into him. Not only are bone and muscle to be built up and kept up by food, but every stroke of the arm involves an expenditure of nervous energy, which is to be supplied only through the alimentary canal. What a man can do in 24 hours will depend very much on what he can have to eat in those 24 hours; or perhaps it would be more correct to say, what he has had to eat the 24 hours previous. If his diet be liberal, his work may be mighty. If he be underfed, he must underwork.
So far away as the Hundred Years' War, Englishmen were accustomed to assign a more generous diet as the reason why their "beef-fed knaves" so easily vanquished their traditional enemies, and even into this century the island writers were accustomed to speak as if still for the same reason, in work at least if not in war,.
Of course in this, as in every other department of Edition: Beyond this, though an increase of food may yield an increase of force, it does not yield a proportional increase, just as in a furnace with a given height of chimney, the combustion of a given number of pounds of coal to the square foot of grate-surface yields the economical maximum of power. More fuel burned will evaporate more water, but not proportionally more. With the laborer the economical maximum of expenditure on food is reached far short of the point at which "gorging and guzzling" begin; it shuts off every thing that partakes of luxury or ministers to delicacy; yet till that maximum be reached every addition to food brings a proportional, or more than proportional, addition of working strength.
To stop far short of that limit and starve the laboring man is as bad economy as to rob the engine of its fuel. Thus with a furnace of a given height, having for its economical maximum 12 lbs. In much the same way a laborer may be kept on so low an allowance of food that it will all go to keeping the man alive, and nothing be left to generate working power. Now this principle, if I have correctly stated it, as to the economical relation between food and laboring force, becomes of validity not only to explain in part the great differences in industrial efficiency which we have seen to exist among bodies of laborers, but also to show how, in cases where the subsistence of the laborer is below the economical maximum, a rise of wages may take place without a loss to profits.
That a large portion of the wage-laboring class are kept below the economical limit of subsistence there can be no doubt. Fawcett, "it is impossible for an agricultural laborer to eat meat more than once a week. He seldom more than sees or smells butcher's meat. No Devon farmer would doubt that it was bad economy to keep his cattle on a low, unnutritious diet. No reputable Devon Edition: And if one were found so niggardly and so foolish as to act and talk thus, his neighbors at least would tell him that the very reason why he made such bare profits now was that he starved his stock, and that with better feeding they would better earn their keep.
If there is any physical impossibility in the case, it is that the wretched peasants could be better fed without adding to the value of their labor to their employers. The revelations of the Poor-Law Commission of respecting the comparative subsistence of the soldier, the agricultural laborer, and the pauper were very striking. The soldier, who had active duties and needed to be kept in at least tolerable physical condition, received a ration of OZ. Now it goes without saying that when the day laborer, toiling from morning till night in the fields, receives a smaller amount of nourishment than the sense of public decency will allow to be given to paupers, that Edition: To avoid multiplying titles, I will in this connection mention clothing as in most climates a condition of efficiency in production.
A portion, in some countries a large portion, of the food taken into the stomach goes to support the necessary warmth of the body. Clothing goes to the same object. Within certain limits, it is a matter of indifference whether you keep up the temperature of the body by putting food into a man or clothing on to him. Peshine Smith has said, "A sheet-iron jacket put around the boiler prevents the waste of heat in the one case, just as a woollen jacket about the body of the laborer does in the other.
Fawcett quotes 35 the poor-law inspectors as stating that one fifth in number of the population are insufficiently clothed. Insufficiency of clothing means, of course, feebleness of working and excessive sickness and mortality. But I may be here called to meet an objection to my statements under this head, based on the assumed sufficiency of the sense of self-interest in employers.
How, it may be asked, do you account for the failure of employers to pay wages which will allow their laborers a more liberal sustenance, if indeed it is for their own advantage to do so? In the first place, I challenge the assumption which underlies the orthodox doctrine of wages, namely, the sufficiency of the sense of self-interest. The argument for keeping a laborer well that he may work well applies with equal force to the maintenance of a slave.
Yet we know, by a mass of revolting testimony, that in all countries avarice, the consuming lust of immediate gain, a passion which stands in the way of a true and enlarged view of self-interest and works unceasing despite to self-interest, has always 36 despoiled the slave of a part of the food and clothing necessary to his highest efficiency as a laborer.
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The same argument would apply with equal force to the care of livestock. Yet it is the hardest thing in the world to bring a body of farmers up to the conviction, and hold them there steadily, that it pays to feed cattle well and treat them well. England, what with unending fairs and premiums, 37 with royal and noble patronage and ensample, and with a very limited proprietorship which it might be supposed could be more easily kept informed as to the real economy of agriculture—England, I say, has managed to create a public sentiment which keeps her farmers reasonably up to the standard in this matter of the care of stock; Edition: I might thus abundantly shelter myself behind the analogous cases which have been cited, where true self-interest is most conspicuously sacrificed to greed.
It is that the employer has none of that security which the owner of stock or the master of slaves possesses, that what goes in food shall come back to him in work. A man buying an underfed slave or an underfed ox knows that when he has brought his property into good condition, the advantage will be his; but the free laborer when he waxes fat may, like Jeshurun, kick, and take himself off. There is no law yet which gives an employer compensation for "unexhausted improvements" in the person of his laborer.
The employer therefore takes his risk, in respect to all subsistence which goes to build up bone and sinew in his workmen, that the added laboring power may be sold to a neighbor or carried away bodily to Australia. Another reason for differences in industrial efficiency is found in differing habits, whether of choice or necessity in their origin, respecting cleanliness of the person and purity of air and water. The first great prison reformer shocked the civilized world with the revelations which he Edition: Yet, a distinguished sanitarian, often quoted in these pages, has said: Gairdner, speaking of Glasgow, "30, or 35, belong to a class who are most dangerous in a sanitary point of view.
Sykes, 43 had but one bedroom each, the aggregate occupants being ; had two bedrooms each, the aggregate occupants being Some of the families occupying a single bedroom consisted of from 8 to 13 individuals. At Bristol, out of families reported on, occupied part of a room only; one room only; the average number of persons to a family being 3. Caird, "lived in houses of one room only; another third in houses of two rooms only.
There are no yards or out-conveniences; the privies are in the centre of each row, about a yard wide; over them there is part of a sleeping-room; there is no ventilation in the bedrooms. Each house contains two rooms, namely, a house-place and sleeping-room above; each room is about three yards wide and four long. In one of these houses there are nine persons belonging to one family, and the mother on the eve of her confinement.
The cellars are let off as separate dwellings; these are dark, damp, and very low, not more than six feet between the ceiling and floor. The street between the two rows is seven yards wide, in the centre of which is the common gutter, or, more properly, sink, into which all sorts of refuse are thrown. This is a description of the cottages of a manufacturing village. The same report gives an account of the homes of the peasantry of Durham, "built of rubble or unhewn stone, loosely cemented. The rafters are evidently rotten and displaced, and the thatch, yawning to admit the wind and wet in some parts, and in all parts utterly unfit for its original purpose of giving protection from the weather, looks more like the top of a dunghill than a cottage.
Such is the exterior; and when the hind comes to take possession, he finds it no better than a shed. The wet, if it happens to rain, is making a puddle on the earth floor They have no byre for their cows, nor sties for their pigs; no pumps or wells; nothing to promote cleanliness or comfort.
The average size of these sheds is about 24 by They are dark and unwholesome; the windows do not open, and many of them are not larger than 20 inches by 16; and into this place are crowded 8, 10, or even 12 persons. The climax of possible horror would seem to be reached in the description of the wynds of Edinburgh; but I will not offend the reader's sensibilities by quoting from it. It will perhaps be quite as effective to compare the experience of sickness in these dens of abomination with that of other localities.
The following table shows the average number of days' sickness suffered in a year by a family in the wynds in comparison 1 with the experience of the Benefit Societies in Scotland, and 2 with the experience of places under sanitary measures.
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So much for the places where men live during the half of the day devoted to sleep and refreshment. In the places where they labor there is not such a dreary monotony of squalor and misery. Neither indifference nor malignity even, on the part of employers could succeed in placing the great majority of workingmen so wretchedly.
The first occupation of man still employs by far the greater part of the race, and for them sunlight and air are provided by the indefeasible bounty of nature. In no small proportion of the mechanical trades either the conditions of the work do not allow the laborer to be shut in between walls, or the expense of enclosure outweighs its advantages, and the trade, though it might be even better prosecuted under cover, is, in fact, carried on out-doors.
After all deductions, however, there remain a melancholy multitude who are called to breathe the foul Edition: I have not dwelt thus at length upon descriptions of human habitations unfit for cattle or for swine, for the purpose of harrowing the feelings of my readers, or even with a view to excite compassion for the condition of the working classes. My single object has been to afford illustration of the influence of the cause we are now considering, upon the efficiency of labor. A great part, if not the great majority, of the laborers of the world are to-day housed thus miserably; uncounted millions worse.
Even of those whose lot is more fortunate but a very small proportion, in any of the older countries, have in their lodging the light and air which the least exacting hygiene declares to be essential to the harmonious development and adequate sustentation of the bodily powers. It is in abodes such as have been described that children grow to maturity and get the size and strength which are to determine their quality as workers.
It is in abodes like these that laboring men have to seek repose and refreshment after the complete exhaustion of a hard day's work; that they breathe the air which is to oxydize their blood, and eat and undertake to digest the food on which to-morrow's work is to be done. What wonder that children grow up stunted and weazen and deformed; that the blood of manhood becomes foul and lethargic, the nerves unstrung, the sight, on which depends much of the use of all the Edition: I have spoken of the dwellings too often inhabited by the laboring classes, and of the air which they have to breathe.
As to the water they have to drink, it will suffice here to cite the results of an inspection and chemical analysis of specimens of drinking-water made in a large number of the cities and towns of Scotland by Dr. The general intelligence of the laborer is a factor of his industrial efficiency. This proposition is too well established and too familiar to need extended illustration. The intelligent laborer is more useful not merely because he knows how to apply 49 his bodily force in his work with the greatest effect, but also because.
Rogers, "who knows how to read and write can learn his drill in half the time in which a totally ignorant person can. Superintendence is always costly. If an overseer is required for every ten men engaged on a piece of work, the product must pay for the time and labor, not of ten men but of eleven; and if the overseer obtains, as he most likely will, twice the wages of a common laborer, then the product must pay for the time and labor of twelve. The employer would just as soon pay his hands 20 per cent more if he could dispense with the overseer.
Even in agriculture no product can be obtained from labor without the sacrifice of pre-existing wealth. A bushel of wheat must be sown for every six or eight bushels to be reaped, and with it must be buried large quantities of costly manures. But in mechanical industry it often happens that the value of the materials used in a manufacture, being themselves the result of antecedent processes, far exceeds the value proposed to be added by labor.
It is merely a question of more or less; and in this respect the range between ignorant and intelligent labor is very great. By waste is not meant alone the total destruction of material, but its impairment in any degree so that the finished product takes a lower commercial value. So great are the possibilities of loss from this source that in all the higher branches of production unintelligent labor is not regarded as worth having at any price however low. We have some striking testimony on this point from Asia and Eastern Europe.
Wheeler, in his "Cotton Cultivation," states that the women of India were accustomed to earn with the native "churka" from three farthings to a little over a penny a day, while with the Manchester cotton-gin they could have earned with ease three pence and possibly four and a half pence. Consul Stuart reports concerning the laborers of Epirus: It is a singular fact that during the fifty years of British occupation in the Ionian Islands, not a single mechanical improvement crossed from Corfu to Epirus, if I may except the screw and the buckle, which found their way here some few years ago, and are now in limited use.
Still another reason for the large differences which exist in respect to industrial efficiency is found in technical education and industrial environment. Perhaps no one of the causes already mentioned contributes more to this result. Even more, I am disposed to believe, than stock and breeding, even more than national diet, do the inherited instincts of a people in respect to labor, and their habits and methods of work, consciously or unconsciously acquired, Edition: Handiness, aptness, and fertility of resource become congenital; in some communities the child is brought into the world half an artisan.
Then, too, he becomes a better workman simply by reason of being accustomed, through the years of his own inability to labor, to see tools used with address, and through watching the alert movement, the prompt co-operation, 55 the precise manipulation, of bodies of workmen. The better part of industrial as of every other kind of education is unconsciously obtained.
And when the boy is himself apprenticed to a trade, or sets himself at work, he finds all about him a thorough and minute organization of labor which conduces to the highest production; he has examples on every side to imitate; if he encounters special obstacles, he has only to stop, or hardly even to stop, to see some older hand deal with the same; if he needs help, it is already at his elbow; and, above all, he comes under impulses and incitements to exertion and to the exercise of thoughtfulness and ingenuity, which are as powerful and unremitting as the impulses and incitements which a recruit experiences in a crack regiment from the moment he dons the uniform.
Very striking testimony is borne in many official reports to the differences in the industrial spirit of the different nations. Edwin Rose testified before the Factory Commission to the great superiority of the English laborer over his Continental rival in his habits of close and continuous application; and at a subsequent inquiry Mr.
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Thompson, of Clitheroe, spoke from a vast personal observation Edition: To-day the esprit and the technique of industry on the Continent are perhaps advanced somewhat beyond where England was in ; but the English are looking back with not a little wonder at their own want of force and drive industrially, in the time of which Mr. Thus we find Dr. Holmes, in their report to the Local Government Board of , writing of the Scotch flax district as follows:. All the spinners had seats provided for them, of which a large number availed themselves. The number of spindles assigned to each was small, varying from 50 to 80; 56 and the number of ends breaking was in no case such as to necessitate constant movement.
Some of the women were knitting, and all appeared much at their ease. In fact, the work very much resembled the picture frequently drawn to us, whether truly or otherwise, of Lancashire weaving and spinning as it was 20 or 30 years ago. Now it is needless to say that some of this heightened Edition: Undoubtedly it involves in some degree overwork and the undue wear and tear of the muscular and the nervous system. But by no means all, or probably the greater part, comes to this. It is because manual dexterity and visual accuracy have been developed to a high point in one generation and bred into the next generation; because habits of subordination and co-operation have become instinctive; because organization and discipline have been brought nearly to perfection, that mechanical labor in England is so much more effective than on the Continent.
Nor is keen, persistent activity necessarily injurious. Dawdling and loafing over one's work are not beneficial to health. Man was made for labor, for energetic, enthusiastic labor, and within certain limits, not narrow ones, industry brings rewards sanitary as well as economical. I have spoken of the faculty of organization 58 as accounting for much of the difference in the efficiency of labor between England and France, for example.
I beg to insist on this with reference to the point of the wear and tear of the laboring force. Those who are familiar with the movements of armies know that a body of troops may be marched thirty miles in a day if kept in a steady, equable motion, with measured periods of rest, and not be brought into camp, at night, so tired as another body of troops that have come only half the distance, but have been fretted and worried, now delayed and now crowded forward, every Edition: Now, this is not an extreme contrast as regards military movements; nor need any thing be taken from its extent when we come to apply it to the operations of industry.
In an establishment where each person has his place and perfectly knows his duty, where work never chokes its channels and never runs low, where nothing ever comes out wrong end foremost, where there is no fretting or chafing, where there are no blunders and no catastrophes, where there is no clamor and no fuss, a pace may be maintained which would kill outright the operatives of a noisy, ill-disciplined, badly-organized shop.
For, as was said in opening this subject of the efficiency of labor, there is in all industry a positive and a negative element. Waste is inseparable from work; but the proportions in which the two shall appear may be made to vary greatly. It is only when we see a perfectly-trained operative performing his task that we realize how much of what the undisciplined and ignorant call their work is merely waste; how little of their expenditure of muscular and nervous force really goes to the object; how much of it is aside from, or in opposition to, that object. And the remark applies not alone to the exertions of the individual but, in a still higher degree, to the operations of bodies of men.
Laing, "the expertness, dispatch, and skill of the operative himself that are concerned in the prodigious amount of his production in a given time, but the laborer who wheels coals to his fire, the girl who makes ready his breakfast, the whole population, in short, from the pot-boy who brings his beer, to the banker who keeps his employer's cash, are in fact working to his hand with the same quickness and punctuality that he works with himself. We have some interesting instances in proof that such Edition: Brassey, after dwelling on the advantages of carrying out English navvies, at vast expense, even to Canada or to Queensland, adds significantly: The Commissioners on the Employment of Women and Children in Agriculture, in their second report, 61 , give the results of a very considerable experiment in draining in Northumberland, extended over a series of years, in which large numbers both of English and Irish were employed, from which it appears that "whereas the English beginner earns an average of four shillings a week more than the Irish beginner, better food and about ten years' practice reduce the difference to 1 s.
Chadwick states 62 "that agricultural laborers who have joined gangs of navvies and have been drilled, with them, into their energetic piece-work habits, on returning to farm labor will do their tasks of work in half the time of the common day-laborers. Examples," he adds, "of the highest order of agricultural piece-work, with increased wages closely approaching manufacturing wages, are presented in the market-garden culture near the metropolis. The last reason which I shall assign for the superior efficiency of individual laborers, classes of laborers, or nations of laborers, is cheerfulness and hopefulness in labor, growing out of self-respect and social ambition and the laborer's personal interest in the result of his work.
I have spoken of causes which affect the laborer's bone and sinew, his physical integrity and his muscular activity. I have spoken also of causes which affect his intellectual qualification for his work, the intelligence which shall direct his bodily powers to the end of production. The causes now in view are moral, affecting the will.
After all, it is in the moral elements of industry that we find the most potent cause of differences in efficiency. If it constitutes one a sentimentalist to recognize the power of sentiment in human action, whether in politics or in economics, the writer gladly accepts the appellation. Cheerfulness and hopefulness in the laborer are the spring of exertions in comparison with which the brute strength of the slave or the eye-server is but weakness. The inferiority of the labor of the slave 63 to that of the freeman, even of the lowest industrial grade, is proverbial. Slave labor is always and everywhere ineffective and wasteful because it has not its reward.
The slave may be made to work, but he can not be made to think; he may be made to work, but he can not be kept from waste; to work, indeed, but not with energy. Energy is not to be commanded, it must be called forth by hope, ambition, and aspiration. The whip only stimulates the flesh on which it is laid. It does not reach the parts of the man where lie the springs of action.
No brutality of rule can evoke even the whole physical power of a human being. The man himself, even if he would, can not Edition: The nervous force, which is to the muscular what the steam is to the parts of the engine, is only in a small degree under the control of the conscious will. It is a little fire only that fear kindles, and it is a little force only that is generated thereby to move the frame. I speak of fear alone, that is, mere fear of evil. When love of life and home and friends are present and give meaning to fear, the utmost energies may be evoked; but not by fear alone, which is, the rather, paralyzing in its effect.
Were it not for this impotence of the lash, the nations would either not have risen from the once almost universal condition of servitude, or would have risen far more slowly. The slave has always been able to make it for his master's interest to sell him freedom.
He could always afford to pay more than could be made out of him. This is a well-recognized principle, and hence the former slave States of the American Union, building their political and social institutions on slavery as the corner-stone, had to forbid entirely or to put under serious disabilities the exercise of manumission. Even with the little the brutalized black could apprehend of the privileges of freedom, even with his feeble hopes and aspirations, condemned, as he knew, by his color to perpetual exclusion, he could always buy himself if permitted.
This unprofitableness of slave or bond labor 65 has prepared the way for those great changes, generally, it is true, effected immediately under the pressure of political necessities, 66 which have transformed whole populations of slaves or serfs into nations of freemen. But great as is the superiority, arising from this cause alone, of free over serf or slave labor, the difference is yet not so great as exists between grades of free labor, as cheerfulness and hopefulness in labor, due to self-respect and social ambition, are found, in greater or in less degree, animating classes and communities of laborers.
It is in the proprietor of land under equal laws that we find the moral qualities which are the incentive of industry most highly developed. Arthur Young's saying has become proverbial: The man not only will, he can. The waste of muscular force is perhaps not half as great in toil which is taken up freely and gladly.
Nervous exhaustion comes late and comes slowly when the laborer sees his reward manifestly growing before his eyes. It is the fulness and the directness of this relation of labor to its reward which, without bell or whip, drives the peasant proprietor afield, and,. Thus it is that Mr. Inglis describes the peasantry of Zurich:.
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Hearn, "exhibit a greater degree of habitual energy than the Scottish subjects of Queen Victoria; yet when her great-grandfather was heir to the throne, the Scottish people were conspicuous for their incorrigible indolence. The lazy Scotch were in the last century as notorious as the lazy Irish 69 of a later day. In both countries a like effect was produced by a like cause.
When we turn from the proprietor of land to the hired laborer, we note at once a loss of energy. In the constitution of things it can not be otherwise. When the relation of labor to its reward becomes indirect and contingent, and the workman finds that the difference, to himself, of very faithful or but little faithful service is only to be experienced in a remote and roundabout way, according as the master's future ability to employ him may be in a degree affected thereby, his own present wages being fixed by contract, and secure upon compliance with the formal requirements of service; or according as his own reputation for efficiency or inefficiency may lead to his being longer retained or earlier discharged, in the event of a future reduction of force—I say, when the relation of labor Edition: Even without the least wilful intention to shirk exertion or responsibility, there will be, there must be, a falling off in energy and in carefulness: But the loss of energy and carefulness due to the making distant or doubtful the reward of extra exertion on the part of the workman, will be much greater with some than with others under precisely similar conditions, and will vary greatly, also, as conditions vary.
Whether it be superiority in faith, in conscience, or in imagination, 71 that makes the difference, there are those who can work in another's cause almost as zealously and prudently as if it were in their own. Such men more clearly apprehend, however they come to do it, the indirect and remote rewards of zeal and fidelity, or, apprehending these no more strongly than others, they are yet better able to direct their energies to an end, and control and keep under the appetites and impulses which make against a settled purpose. Some men, some races of men, are easily recognized as more genuine, honest, and heroic than others, and these differences in manly quality come out nowhere more conspicuously than in the degrees of interest and zeal exhibited in hired labor.
I have not chosen to introduce into the body of the foregoing discussion the effects of drunkenness and dishonesty Edition: Throughout all that has been said the laborer has been assumed to be temperate and well-intentioned. Of the frightful waste of productive power, through both the diminution of work and the increase of waste, which results from the vice of drunkenness, so lamentably characterizing certain races, it can not be necessary to speak. More than all the festivals of the Greek or the Roman church, the worship of "Saint Monday" 72 reduces the current wages of labor, while leaving its ineffaceable marks on heart and brain and hand.
The want of common honesty between man and man, though happily less frequent than the indulgence of vicious appetites, works even deeper injury to industry where it prevails in any considerable degree. Either the factory or workshop must be closed or wages must be lowered.
There is no middle course, and in either case the workman is the sufferer. I can not better close this extended discussion of the causes which contribute to the efficiency of labor than by introducing two extracts, the first from Dr. Kane's work on the Industrial Resources of Ireland, in which he accounts very justly for the difference between the Irish and the English laborer of that period; the second from Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.
Both are profoundly significant, and I ask the reader's careful consideration of them with reference to the principles previously discussed, and also with reference to the doctrine of the wages fund, to be treated hereafter. Kane, "who can earn by his exertion but four or five shillings a week, on which to support his family and pay the rent of a sort of habitation, must be so ill-fed and depressed in mind that to work as a man should work is beyond his power.
Hence there are often seen about employments in this country a number of hands double what would be required to do the same work in the same time with British laborers When I say that the men thus employed at low wages do so much less real work, I do not mean that they intentionally idle, or that they reflect that as they receive so little they should give little value; on the contrary, they do their best honestly to earn their wages; but, supplied only with the lowest descriptions of food, and perhaps in insufficient quantity, they have not the physical ability for labor, and being without any direct prospect of advancement, they are not excited by that laudable ambition to any display of superior energy.
If the same men are placed in circumstances where a field for increased exertion is opened to them, and they are made to understand, what at first they are rather incredulous about, that they will receive the full value of any increased labor they perform, they become new beings, the work they execute rises to the highest standard, and they earn as much money as the laborers of any other Edition: Wages are no longer low, but labor is not on that account any dearer than it has been before.
The wages of labor are the encouragement of industry, which, like every other human quality, improves in proportion to the encouragement it receives. A plentiful subsistence increases the bodily strength of the laborer, and the comfortable hope of bettering his condition and ending his days perhaps in ease and plenty animates him to exert that strength to the utmost. Where wages are high, accordingly, we shall always find the workmen more active, diligent, and expeditious than where they are low: I USE the term, degradation of labor, here in the sense of the reduction of the laborer from a higher to a lower industrial grade.
The constant imminence of this change, the smallness of the causes, often accidental in origin and temporary in duration, which may produce it, and the almost irreparable consequences of such a catastrophe, are not sufficiently attended to in discussions of wages. To the contrary, it is the self-protecting power of labor which is dwelt upon. It is shown how, if by any insidious cause, or from any sudden disaster in trade or production, be the same local or general, industry is impaired and employment diminished, labor immediately sets itself, by natural laws, to right itself, by withholding increase of population, or by migrating to more fortunate localities.
The same, if labor be crowded down by the power of capital, or by unjust laws: The excessive profits which the employing class are thus enabled for a time to make, increase the capital of the community, and thus give enhanced employment to laborers, so that, in the end, it is quite as well as if the money had gone in wages instead of profits. If capital takes an undue advantage of labor at any point, as unfortunately it sometimes does, somebody at some other point has, in consequence of that, a stronger desire to employ laborers, and so the wrong tends to right itself.
This is the great conservative force in the relations of capital to labor. Now, of the degrees of celerity and certainty with which population does, in fact, adapt itself to changes in the seats or in the forms of industry, or assert itself against the encroachments of the employing class or the outrages of legislation, I shall have occasion to speak with some fulness hereafter Chapter XI.
But I desire at the present time, in close connection with our discussion of the causes which contribute to the efficiency of labor, to point out the consequences of any failure or undue delay on the part of population in thus resenting the loss of employment or the reduction of wages. The trouble is, these changes which are to set labor right always require time, and often a very long time. There is danger, great danger, that meanwhile men will simply drop down in the industrial and social scale, accept their lot, and adapt themselves to the newly-imposed conditions of life and labor.
All things settle to the new level; industrial society goes on as before, except that there is a lower class of citizens and a lower class of laborers. There is thereafter no virtue at all, no tendency even, in strictly industrial forces or relations to make good that great loss. In a word, much of the reasoning of the schools and the books on this subject assumes that the laboring class will resent an industrial injury, and will either actively seek to right themselves, or will at least abide in their place without surrender until the economical harmonies have time to bring about their retribution.
But the human fact so often to be distinguished from the economical assumption is, there is a fatal facility in submitting to industrial injuries which too often does not allow time for the operation of these beneficent principles of relief and restoration. The industrial opportunity comes around again, it may be, but it does not find the same man it left: Let us take successively the cases of a reduction of wages and of a failure of employment. But if the previous wages have been barely enough to furnish the necessaries of life, with no margin for saving, and especially if the body of laborers are ignorant and unambitious, the probabilities are quite the other way.
The falling off in the quantity or quality of food and clothing, and in the convenience and healthfulness of the shelter enjoyed, will at once affect the efficiency of the laborer. With less food, which is the fuel of the human machine, less force will be generated; with less clothing, more force will be wasted by cold; with scantier and meaner quarters, a fouler air and diminished access to the light will prevent the food from being duly digested in the stomach, and the blood from being duly oxydized in the lungs; will lower the tone of the system, and expose the subject increasingly to the ravages of disease.
Now, in all these ways the laborer becomes less efficient simply through the reduction of his wages. The current economy asserts that whatever is taken off from wages is added to profits, and that hence a reduction of wages will increase capital and hence quicken employment, and hence, in turn, heighten wages. But we have seen it to be quite possible that what is taken from wages no man shall gain. It is lost to the laborer and to the world. Now, so far as strictly economic forces are concerned, where enters the restorative principle?
The employer is not getting excessive profits, to be expended subsequently in wages. The laborer is not underpaid: This image of the degraded laborer is not a fanciful one. There are in England great bodies of population, communities counting scores of thousands, which have come, in just this way, to be pauperized and brutalized; the inhabitants weakened and diseased by underfeeding and foul air until, in the second generation, blindness, lameness, and Edition: Such a region is Spitalfields, where a large population, once reasonably prosperous and self-respectful, was ruined by a great change in the conditions of the silk manufacture.
The severity of the industrial blows dealt them in quick succession was so great that the restorative principles never began to operate at all. Spitalfields succumbed to its fate. Instead of it being true that the misery of the weavers was a reason to them to emigrate, it constituted the very reason why they could not emigrate, or would not. Instead of it being true that their misery was a reason to them not to propagate, the more miserable they became, the more reckless, also, and the heavier grew their burdens. As a consequence, in a single human generation the inhabitants of Spitalfields took on a type suited to their condition.
Short-lived at best, weakness, decrepitude, and deformity made their labor, while they lasted, ineffective and wasteful. So long ago as the Poor-Law Commissioners reported that it was almost a thing unknown that a candidate from this district for appointment in the police was found to possess the requisite physical qualifications for the force. But if this loss may be suffered in respect to the physical powers of the laborer through a reduction of wages, quite as certainly and quite as quickly may his usefulness be impaired through the moral effects of such a calamity.
And just as the greatest possibilities of industrial efficiency lie Edition: We have seen through what a scale the laborer may rise in his progress to productive power; by looking back we may see through what spaces it is always possible he may fall under the force of purely industrial disasters. But it is when the reduction begins to affect the power of the workman to maintain himself according to the standard of decency which he has set for himself that the decline in industrial quality goes on most rapidly.
The fact that he is driven to squalid conditions does not merely lower his physical tone: Especially as the pinching of want forces his family into quarters where cleanliness and a decent privacy become impossible does the degradation of labor proceed with fearful rapidity. All such effects tend to remain and perpetuate themselves. When people are down, economical forces solely are more likely to keep them down, or push them lower down, than to raise them up. It is only on the assumption that labor will resent industrial injuries, either by seeking a better market or by abstaining from reproduction, that it can be asserted that economical laws have a tendency to protect the laboring class and secure their interests.
Just so far as laborers abide in their lot, and bring forth after their kind, while suffering industrial hardship, no matter how in the first place incurred, the whole effect and tendency of purely economical forces is to perpetuate, and not to remove, that hardship, either in the next year or in the next generation. Moral and intellectual causes only can repair any portion of the loss and waste occasioned.