« PreviousContinue »
considerable very bad business has been done by it (or him) this session. The House seems to have adopted the principle of the British Parliament, obedience to a leader. "Change your leaders if you will, take another if you will, but obey No. 1 while you serve No. 1, and obey No. 2 when you have gone over to No. 2. The penalty of not doing so, is the penalty of impotence. It is not that you will not be able to do any good, but you will not be able to do anything at all." The dominant party in the House has followed the second part of this advice, that regarding obedience, almost to the extent of slavishness; perhaps it might be more profitable for it to devote a little consideration to the first part, that regarding change.
A proposition has been submitted to the Senate to devote the money to be received(?) from the subsidized Pacific railroads to subsidizing so-called agricultural colleges in the several States and Territories. Is it not a little suggestive of the remote and unforeseen effects which follow in the train of government meddling with the course of industry, that this new subsidy is to be the offspring
of the railroad subsidies of 1861-70? To be sure, agricultural colleges have been subsidized before; but here is a new departure in the same direction, deriving its impetus solely from subsidies to railroads twenty years ago. Even if the college fund is not restricted to these proceeds, the fact will remain that the introduction of the measure in the first place was due to the existence of the railroad subsidies. Otherwise the scheme might not have been thought of now. But money once bestowed on the railroads has been regarded, only too truly, as expended, lost to the government. If any begins to come in from them now, it will be much easier to induce Congress to spend it on schools than if the sum had to be raised some other way. But perhaps we should be grateful, after all, that money may be obtained in this way, as it removes one of the occasions which might be urged for increased tariffs whose real object and whose sure effect is to enrich some and impoverish others.
The way party lines have been broken through in the recent votes on the Silver bill, confirms what was said in TO-DAY of the
irresponsible nature of the action taken by Congress in this matter. Representatives have received absolutely no instructions from their constituents how they should vote on this important question; and the votes they cast are irresponsible — non-representative, in a word. The subject has not been debated in a national campaign; the platforms of neither party have contained expressions of policy on which the people might vote. Congressmen, therefore, when they vote on this question, instead of representing, each one of them, as they should do, at least 10,000 voters, -and the senators many more,- represent in reality no one, and nothing but their own sweet wills. When this happens, something far more serious than the written Constitution is violated; the fact of democracy is ignored. Democracy is not a very exalted fact, nor, as manifested here at present, one that can be called attractive to contemplate. But, such as it is, even here and now, it is a stern fact, and an important fact. This trifling with a stern and important fact will be found to be a more serious blunder than any other committed, or about to be committed, by the present Congress. The duty of members is to vote against affirmative legislation as to which they have not been instructed. It is entirely within the range of reasonable conjecture that a good deal of light might have been thrown on this question of government tampering with money and banks, if the matter had been thrashed out in a national campaign. Perhaps one voter in every ten thousand might have had his faith shaken that government was the proper agency for providing the people the money and controlling the circulation. As there are over 10,000,000 voters, 1,000 men or more might have been enlightened as to the fact that evils of all kinds, unforeseen and unforeseeable, follow government interference.
A young woman has completed a ten-mile grading contract on the Evansville & Terre Haute Railroad, Indiana. She has shipped three carloads of horses and machinery to Wellington, O., where she has another contract for a twenty-five mile grade.
How long is this state of things going to be suffered to continue? How long is this young woman going to be permitted to set at naught the laws of nature, desert the cheerful fireside
of her aged parents, or maliciously check the population of her native country, gallivantin' around the country with horses and machinery and railroad men and Italian section hands, and heaven knows whom? That's what I want to know. I submit to the Indiana Legislature notoriously the wisest body of men ever congregated on this planet - that she ought at least, in accordance with all precedents of legislation, in accordance with the spirit of the constitution, in accordance with the requirements of our institutions, to say nothing of the sanctity of womanhood, the integrity of the family, and the manifest intentions of the Creator, she ought at least to be registered and licensed, if not, indeed, regularly inspected by the board of health commissioners. Shall she be permitted longer to inspire by her vicious example and her unnatural conduct the young women of the country with false and foolish, not to say wicked and pernicious, notions of the sphere of women?
Think of the disasters which may be visited on our devoted heads, if we do not curb this ruinous tendency while it is yet time. What if one of those grades proves defective, and hundreds of innocent passengers are precipitated to a frightful death?
Besides, this threatens an injurious competition in the railway contracting business, which has always been conceded to men. Are they not to be protected now, in their hour of need, by the legislators whom they have confidingly chosen and trusted with the care of their interests? Let a special session of the Legislature be called or at least egg on the common law; it has seldom been known to lack means of putting restraints on the personal liberty of women
Mr. Phelps (Forum, December, 1889) said that in nine cases out of ten of divorce, the This is, no guilty party is the husband. doubt, a considerable exaggeration, but the truth leaves a sufficiently heavy balance against men, and this, too, in spite of the fact that the commonest of all grounds of divorce, the oue most likely to hold in court,adultery, is more rarely proved against them than against women. It seems then that men more than make up for their formal — no one will believe it real advantage in this respect, by furnishing other causes for divorce.
To take a narrow field, one in which I took the court records from the daily papers of the time and place myself (San Francisco, 1885), of the whole number of divorces (391) 291 were granted to women, 109 of which were for cruelty. Thirty divorces in all were granted on account of adultery, and of these only five were obtained by women on that ground, although the cause was alleged in the petitions in many other cases. The small proportion of adultery divorces to the whole number must be attributed to the fact that the total in this case is swelled by the artificial conditions, San Francisco being one of the favorite divorce-resorts for the country. And when petitioners have come from a distance to obtain divorces, a more trivial plea is both sufficient and easier proved.
l'assing to larger figures, of the 328,716 divorces in the United States during the twenty years ending with 1886, 52,594 were granted to women for cruelty. Twenty per cent of the whole number were granted on account of adultery. If the same ratio holds here as in San Francisco in 1885 (5 in 30), then of the divorces for adultery, women obtained only 16 per cent or less than 4 per cent of the total for all causes.
These figures may be compared with some from France. In the five years ending with 1889, 15,521 divorces were granted, 8,621 of which to men, and 6,900 to women; that is, 1,721, or 11 per cent, more divorces were granted to men than to women. As regards causes, 52 per cent were on account of infidelity, and 45 per cent on account of desertion and cruelty. But 45 per cent is almost exactly the number of divorces given to women; and seeing that they must be almost exclusively the ones to get divorces on account of desertion and cruelty, they could have got very few on account of infidelity.
A report has appeared in the newspapers, somewhat difficult to comprehend, that "forty socialistic Unions" have been expelled from the Central Labor Union of New York, and that they have applied for admission to an association called the American Federation of Labor. I wish we could learn something more of this. The facts - if they are factsare suggestive of many things. Why were whole "Unions" expelled? Is the inference sound, that the remaining Unions are anti
socialistic? Why do not the expelled socicties content themselves with union among themselves, instead of seeking the sheltering arm of another organization? And, chiefly, in what respects have they deserved the title socialistic?
At a meeting of the "Christian Socialists" one of the speakers referred to the investigation of corruption and bribery of the Massachusetts Legislature. She said:
"There are four factors at the root of that investigation -the corporations, the lobby and the Legislature for their methods, and the people for allowing such methods."
These are the corporations, the lobby, the Legislature, and the people whom the Socialists expect to have transmuted into perfect humanity by governmental control of industry in a few years. Another speaker at the same meeting said that in the year 1900 we should have a Congress of noble men and women whose very words would be hung on by all future generations. He also alluded in disparaging terms to "dreamers" who did not come forward to assist the great practical reform of Socialism.
That eminent controversialist, Prof. Huxley, has been writing articles to the "Nineteenth Century," on Natural Rights, Inequality, and other subjects. These articles grew out of a dispute which began in the pages of the Times, over the question, what the business of the government was in respect to demands that are made more or less loudly for the confiscation of land. Prof. Huxley quotes copiously, and, I doubt not, accurately, from Rousseau, Ulpian, Quesnay, and other equally renowned authorities. He calls up their shadows, and slays them. That is really a tour de force to slay shadows, but it is a thankless job.
Mr. Kitchen does not seem to have had much insight into the course of events when he wrote, in 1879:
"We live in days in which the growth of a modern imperialism, based on a huge armament and destructive of small states, has become a standing menace to the well-being of the world; it is a ground for hope and thankfulness that France, the central State of Europe, has definitely and calmly abandoned
her imperialist traditions, and set herself to live the temperate life of a constitutional Republic. . . . With France as a prudent Republic, the resistance of the peoples of Europe to arbitrary power and crushing armies will gradually be strengthened. . . .
As a matter of fact, the increase of armies and the extensions of arbitrary power have steadily proceeded since 1879, and France has been in the van of movement. France, less threatened, perhaps, with immediate external dangers than any other of the so-called great nations, has nevertheless led the way in militancy, and stands to day in a more belligerent attitude than she did in 1869, on the eve of the German war. So little do the forms of democracy promise for the conduct of a people. The habit of throwing the blame of begetting wars on the heads of kings is a very bad one, as it tends to close our eyes to equally real and much more permanent and powerful causes the spirit of a people. We have no less an authority than Count von Moltke to assure us, only the other day, that the time for "cabinet wars" was past (if, indeed, it ever existed). The impending consequences of living in a state of incipient warfare will be not only surely but justly on the heads of the people themselves. War is the result of unruly and unreasoning passions. It is absurd to suppose that these can be constantly indulged in private life and in personal relations, but kept in check in political relations. The nature of a people is no other than the natures of the individuals; and passions which are not restrained and subordinated to reason in them personally, will not be restrained and subordinated to reason politically. There is no sharp line between personal conduct and political conduct; they are the breeders of war, who surrender their daily conduct to the control of every petty spite that springs from momentary spleen. France is as apt to have war, and bloody war, under a republican form of government as under the monarchical or imperial forms. These forms may be signs of an underlying reality, but experience shows only only too plainly that signs may be present without the reality. The essential point is, how do people feel and act from day to day, from moment to moment; and on the reply to this depends the view we must take of the probability of war, and not at all on the question whether they will be led to war
by an emperor or by a general. Now, the way it is with most people, is, that they act in a vicious and arbitrary way their lives long, and such will not beget children who will be keepers of the peace between nations.
A WORD OF CAUTION.
In No. 4 of the current volume Liberty renews its counter-criticism of To-DAY, but this time under the deceptive appearance of giving us praise or credit.
The editor expresses himself as gratified by our denial that the authority of the State is intrinsically just, and chooses to see in this denial a disagreement with the opinion of Mr. Spencer. If this disagreement is real, it is a severe criticism of To-DAYa very serious matter indeed (for us). If the disagreement is real, the fact is not very apt, as Liberty suggests that it is, to arouse him [Mr. Spencer] to the untenability of his theory "; though it might arouse To-DAY to a sense of its error- said to be shared with the Anarchists. Without going into the wider and more important question of fact, we may content ourselves with noting that the disagreement to which Liberty refers, has no existence. The "gratifying' passages quoted from To-DAY are these:
"The difference between belief in the right of the majority to control the minority, and of the stronger to control the weaker, is certainly not one of kind. Our belief that the authority of the State is intrinsically just is not so very different at bottom from the savage's belief that it is right for his chief to kill and eat him."
The questions here raised are very large and complex ones, and it is not to be expected that a few short words should convey the whole of any one's opinion about them who has an opinion in some small degree proportioned to the vastness and complexity of the subject. I shall content myself with referring to these words of Spencer's relating to the same aspect of the question:
"The great political superstition of the past was the divine right of kings. The great political superstition of the present is the divine right of parliaments. The oil of anointing seems unawares to have dropped from the head of the one on to the heads of the many, and given sacredness to them also and to their decrees.
"... When that 'divinity' which 'doth hedge a king,' and which has left a glamour around the body inheriting his power, has quite died away; when it begins to be seen clearly that, in a popularly governed nation, the government is simply a committee of management, it will also be seen that this committee of management has no intrinsic authority. The inevitable conclusion will be, that its authority is given by those appointing it; and has just such bounds as they choose to impose. Along with this will go the further conclusion, that the laws it passes are not in themselves sacred; but that whatever sacredness they have, it is entirely due to ethical
sanction an ethical sanction which, as we find, is derivable from the laws of human life as carried on under social conditions. And there will come the corollary that when they have not this ethical sanction, they have no sacredness. . . ."
These clear and emphatic statements make it very doubtful how there is any want of agreement between the opinion quoted from To-DAY and the opinion held by Spencer.
My word of caution, then, is simply this: When adjectives are used, it is highly desirable to know what substantives are qualified; when qualities are predicated, it is essential to understand what thing they are ascribed to. The whole difficulty is with that compound adjective, “intrinsically just.” According to Spencer, the action of the State is never intrinsically just; the justice it may have is borrowed, derived from ascertained laws or rules of justice. From this opinion, I think, it is impossible to dissent. Liberty certainly does not dissent; it is not to this opinion that the disagreement of the editor relates. Spencer, apparently, believes that it is possible for ethical laws to be advantageously enforced by the State, that is, for some ethical laws to be so enforced- not many, to be sure, compared to the whole number which must be observed if we would live rightly and happily, but still important ones. Well, Liberty dissents, but To-DAY does not; so why should we, much less Spencer, undertake now the revision of the belief? I have at least once or twice called on Liberty for the evidence in favor of its belief. What I am willing to listen to, is an argument to show that "government is the father of all evil," and of nothing but evil, as the Anarchists, of course, believe. Though I will indulgently allow for emotional exaggerations of expression, I will not abate one jot from the evidence. I want the whole alphabet, but Liberty refuses to show up the first letter. As I have formed quite a high opinion of the editor's ingenuity, his silence becomes an evidence of the weakness of his conten-. tion. I admit that the contention, if true, would be a difficult one to prove, or to show up in the proper light. But this is no concern of mine; let those who take up their position on a controversial ground look to it that their footing is secure. As for anarchy's being the ideal political state, this is a very barren conclusion, and, like desert land, no one's property. It is not Proudhon's, it is not Spencer's, nor Liberty's, nor To-DAY's. Most all sensible people agree that if we were perfect, we should need no government; if the earth were perfectly round, all poles would be equidistant from the centre.
WORKMEN AND COMMODITIES.
A writer on economical subjects, Von Thünen, discovered a formula for the general expression of ideal wages with which he was so much pleased that he had it engraved on his tombstone, in imitation of Archimedes. Unfortunately, Von Thünen
did not succeed with the problem of wages as well as Archimedes did with that of the three round bodies; the solution of the ancient is right, while that of the modern is wrong. To obtain the ideal wages, according to the formula, we are to multiply the amount necessary for the maintenance of the workmen by the aggregate product of their labor, and then extract the square root of the sum thus obtained. The formula, however, is not nearly so remarkable as that a man should really think that he had solved the problem.
There are two standpoints from which the question may be viewed: that of the laborer and that of the employer; from the former, the ideal wages are, of course, a maximum; from the latter, a minimum. The maximum would be a little less than the total product, and the minimum would be the smallest sum which would enable the laborers to live and perform the work. Many estimates have been made of the amount of food necessary to sustain a man at work, which might be valuable in this connection if, as political economists at one time held, wages tend toward a minimum. Without doubt, wages have been at many times and in many countries insufficient to enable the laborers to do a full amount of work, even supposing the money to be applied to the best advantage, so that the employers obtained less work than they could from the same amount divided among fewer workmen. It has been stated that in England between 1660 and 1719, day wages, expressed in wheat, amounted to only about two thirds of a peck; between 1720 and 1750, to an entire peck. In France, as late as 1832, a man working in the fields earned, on an average, one and one fourth francs a day.
In most cases, however, wages are neither at a maximum nor at a minimum. The immediate wages of common labor are determined by supply and demand. The most striking indication of this is found in the fact that a great plague or a sudden movement of emigration is wont to in
crease the rate of wages. When, in 1348, theBlack Death" swept away half the population of Britain, wages rose to such an extent that it was impossible for minor tenants to perform the services due for their lands; the wages of threshers nearly doubled in one year. "Harvests rotted on
the ground, and fields were left untilled." The disturbance of the relation between capital and labor is testified by a statute passed about this time, providing that every able-bodied man or woman not having land or business of his own, and not serving another, should be bound to serve any employer requiring his services, and should take only the wages which ruled two years before the plague. Three years later, the laborer was forbidden to leave his own parish in search of better-paid employment. The same plague devastated Europe with a like effect upon wages. Within this century, the emigration from England to Australia, in some years preponderating over the natural increase of population, caused a notable increase of wages. In some industries, between 1839 and 1859, this rise was estimated at from eighteen to twenty-four per cent.
While labor may be regarded as a commodity, the price of which is, in part at least, determined by the law of demand and supply, the laborer is not a commodity but a citizen of the State, and a man co-operating in the production of wealth, having an increasing power to enforce his claim to a portion of the wealth after it is produced. Wages, therefore, may be regarded either as the price paid for labor or as a portion of the income of a nation distributed among a class of its members. Each view needs to be supplemented by the other. That wages are not wholly determined by supply and demand may, perhaps, be inferred from the fact that they are higher during years of plenty than in years of want. The supply of labor is the same in both cases; the demand is probably greater during the former years, but hardly enough greater to account for the