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Title: Consumers and Wage-Earners - The Ethics of Buying Cheap
Author: Ross, J. Elliot
Language: English
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                             CONSUMERS  AND

                            AND WAGE-EARNERS

                          THE ETHICS OF BUYING

                         J. ELLIOT ROSS, Ph.D.

                                NEW YORK
                        THE DEVIN-ADAIR COMPANY

                          Copyright, 1912, by
                        THE DEVIN-ADAIR COMPANY


J. ELLIOT ROSS is a member of an old and prominent Southern family. He
has long been an ardent student of economics, of sociology, and of the
enslaved condition of the Wage-Earner,--and _who, save the idle rich
and the social drone, is not a wage-earner_? Dr. Ross is a graduate
of George Washington University. The Catholic University of America
conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Philosophy for this, his
excellent work in behalf of the Consumer, the Wage-Earner, and the

                           TABLE OF CONTENTS

    THE POINT AT ISSUE                             3


    WHAT IS A JUST EMPLOYER?                      38


    INDUSTRIAL CONDITIONS: WAGES                  66

    INDUSTRIAL CONDITIONS: HEALTH                 77

    INDUSTRIAL CONDITIONS: MORALS                 95


    APPENDIX                                     133

    BIBLIOGRAPHY                                 135

                              CHAPTER ONE

                           THE POINT AT ISSUE

Have you ever stood in a country store and from the superior heights of
mature wisdom watched a chubby-faced, bright-eyed boy invest a penny in
a prize-bag? To you it is simply a paper enclosing a few nuts, a piece
of candy, and a variable quantity in the shape of a tin flag, an
imitation ring, etc. But to the child there is an excitement in getting
one knows not what. All the gambling instincts of the race that
squanders thousands upon the turf, all the love of adventure that
peopled our continent, are summed up in that one act. The child has,
perhaps, contentedly endured the routine of the farm for weeks in the
anticipation of this one moment of blissful joy when his anxious fingers
nervously reveal the delight or the disappointment.

       *       *       *       *       *

Years have brought wisdom (or is it disillusionment?) and imitation
rings no longer have the same importance in our eyes. No matter how
wistfully we may look back, those days will never return. Yet prize-bags
may once again loom large in our intellectual horizon, though with a
difference. This time we look beyond the rosy-cheeked, healthy country
lad, bred amid the beauties of God's fields and nourished with
unadulterated home products, to the pale, nervous, over-worked girls who
spend their days filling these bags. In an ill-lighted, ill-ventilated
room, in a great dusty, dirty city they work feverishly for ten hours at
the rate of four cents a hundred bags. "They stand at a table with boxes
before them, from which they take peanuts, candy and prizes with quick
automatic motion. They turn down the corners of each bag, and string the
bags when full in long bulky curls of seventy-two."[1]

Speeding to the utmost they cannot make enough to live on. A room in a
cheap boarding-house, morally and physically dirty, insufficient food,
and no chance for legitimate pleasures--this is the prize-bag life holds
for them. What wonder if the temptation to supplement these wages in the
way always possible for women prove too strong? Who is to blame?

Is the little chap hundreds of miles away in the country, happily
unconscious of their existence, in any way responsible? This is the
question with which we are going to busy ourselves.

Our little boy and over-worked girl are not, probably, typical Consumers
and Producers. Still they represent large numbers of the economic world,
and the solidarity of industry is such that one could not exist without
the other. In a way, the country lad is a shadow of President Taft
pressing a button to start the machinery of a world's fair. The child,
with wonderful effect on others, furnishes a portion of the nation's
industrial mechanism. In the satisfaction of his own desires, he is all
unconscious of this, and unconscious, too of the responsibilities of
power that modern social workers would thrust upon him.

It was once, indeed, the object of reformers to excite a sense of wrong
in the oppressed. The fashion found expression in Thomas Paine's "Rights
of Man." Now their purpose is also to arouse a sense of obligation in
the powerful, and the change of front is indicated by Mazzini's "Duties
of Man." One duty after another has been forced upon the race's
conscience, and to-day the attempt is made to compel the final, and
some say the most powerful, element of the industrial world,--the
Consumer,--to shoulder his share of responsibility.

Briefly, the line of argument is this: Laborers have a right to "a fair
wage for a fair day's work." If employers fail in their duty of meeting
this right, then the obligation neglected by the employers must be
assumed by those who also benefit by the laborers' work,--by the
_Consuming Class_. At first, the obligation is made abstract and
hypothetical in this way because of difficulties in establishing the
concrete content of the workman's right to a fair wage, and just what
line of conduct is incumbent upon the individual Consumer confronted by
this situation. Persons who readily agree that the laborer has a right
to a fair wage, and that if this right is violated the Consumer ought to
do something, will wrangle unendingly as to just what is a fair wage and
just what a Consumer ought to do.

After fixing this general obligation upon the Consuming Class, however,
the other question as to whether the employers are actually neglecting
their duties towards their employees, and what the individual Consumer
can and should do, will be considered.

The fixing of an abstract, hypothetical obligation for a whole class,
rather than a concrete duty for a particular individual, is not useless.
If it is proved, that, provided employers neglect their duties and the
Consuming Class can do anything to fulfill them, there is an obligation
upon the Consuming Class to carry out these duties--if this is
established, it is only necessary when a particular case presents itself
to ask: Have the men through whose labor this Consumer is benefiting
been unjustly treated by their employers, and can this Consumer, without
a disproportionately grave inconvenience, do anything to help them?

Unless both questions are answered in the affirmative, this particular
individual Consumer can have no duty of fulfilling the abstract
obligation. This is much easier than working out the principle anew for
each case. It is the difference between blowing bottles and molding


[1] "Women and the Trades," The Pittsburgh Surrey, by Elizabeth
Beardsley Butler: N. Y., 1909: p. 47.

                              CHAPTER TWO


Practically all are agreed on the fundamental point that laborers have a
right to a fair wage for a fair day's work. Leo XIII has said, that
though contracts between laborers and employers are free, "nevertheless,
there is a dictate of natural justice underlying them more imperious
than any bargain between man and man, that remuneration ought to be
sufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner."[2] Later
in the same encyclical, he indicates that this wage should be large
enough to enable a workman to "maintain himself, his wife and his
children in reasonable comfort" (p. 237), and allow a margin for saving
against a rainy day.

The present Pope, Pius X, has quoted these words of his predecessor and
agreed that workmen have a strict right in justice to a fair wage, time
to fulfill their religious duties, and freedom from work unsuited to
their age, strength, or sex.[3] The Rev. J. Kelleher, one of the most
recent and respected writers on the question, goes even further. "_The
right to work_," he says, "or some other right that will secure an
opportunity of providing for reasonable living to the less fortunate
members of the social body who do not happen to be possessed of
property, is an essential condition of any equitable economic

Cardinal Capecelatro has said that each one has "a right to raise
himself towards the infinite, a right to the intellectual nourishment of
religion, and, therefore, a right to the time necessary for the worship
of God, a right to repose, a right to honest enjoyment, a right to love
in marriage, and the life of the home. In woman Christianity recognizes
with her function of child-bearing in Christian marriage, a right to the
time for the nurture of her children. In children it recognizes a right
to the supreme benefit of health, given them by God, but endangered by
overmuch work. In young girls it recognizes a right to such moderation
in their duties as may assure them health and strength. In all,
finally, it acknowledges the immortal soul, with its rights to
education, to salvation, to the time that these things need."[5]

Now when Pope Leo and the other authorities quoted used the words
"right," "just," "duty," what did they mean? These words are often
employed vaguely and carelessly, but we may be sure that here they were
taken in a strict and well-defined sense, such as usually found among
Catholic ethicists.

A right, as it is thus ordinarily defined, is "a legitimate power of
doing or acquiring something for one's own good."[6]

The word power is not taken here in the sense of physical ability. It
means that moral potency or capacity without which nothing can be
acquired or recovered: for a person may have a right to do what he has
not the physical power to perform. "Legitimate" means granted by or
conformable to law: hence we have not a right to do everything for which
we have the physical power.

Once we get this idea of "right" firmly fixed in our minds, the
concepts of "justice," "injustice," and "duty" easily follow. For
"justice," in a definition of Ulpian that has been accepted all down the
ages since, is simply the constant and perpetual will of giving to each
one his right.[7] And injustice, naturally, is merely a voluntary
violation of another's right.

A "duty" is simply the obverse of a right, it is the obligation
corresponding to a right. Or as Bouquillon put it, it is "something
reasonably due from one person to another because of a necessary
connection between the end to be attained and the means used."[8] As the
end varies between justice and charity, so does the duty. In the one
case, our object is to fulfill the precept, "love thy neighbor as
thyself"; in the other, to give to each man what he has a right to have.

The fundamental concept of a "right" may be looked at from four points
of view: (a) the _subject_, or who has the right; (b) the matter, or
_content_ of the right; (c) the _title_ or reason for the right; (d) and
finally, the _term_, or who has to respect the right.

Asking these questions about the right at present under consideration,
we find that the subject of the right is each individual who
contributes to the production or distribution of the articles purchased
by the Consumer. The content of this right we have already given in the
words of Leo XIII and others. Briefly, it may be summarized as the right
to a decent living.

On what grounds have employees these rights? By the very fact that they
are men; that is, intelligent beings destined for a supernatural end.
Therefore these rights are _connatural_, as belonging to them by their
nature; _inalienable_, because they cannot be renounced; _perfect_,
because so strict that the duties corresponding to them are matters of
commutative justice.

And who has the duties corresponding to the workman's right to a decent
living? Primarily, the direct employer. He has a strict duty of justice
in the matter. If he fulfill it, then no one else is bound. But in the
case before us, we assume that the direct employer has failed to do his
strict duty of commutative justice to his employees. It makes no
difference whether the direct employer be formally guilty or not. He may
be unable to perform his duty, or he may wilfully neglect it. That does
not matter. _De facto_, he does neglect it. What then is the duty of
the Consuming Class?

We think that the Consuming Class is bound to assume the obligations
that the direct employers have neglected. And we are going to support
this contention by four arguments. These arguments are:

I. _The devolution of duty argument_: the direct employer has failed to
fulfill his duty, and this duty thereupon devolves upon the indirect
employer, the Consuming Class.

II. _The value argument_: ideally, the buyer of an article is bound to
pay its value, and, as a general rule, if proper economy has been
exercised in its production, this must be sufficient to pay a living
wage to the men engaged in producing and distributing that article.

III. _The co-operation argument_: the direct employer is guilty of an
injustice in which the Consuming Class is bound not to co-operate.

IV. _The social argument_: it is for the common good that the average
employee should be paid a living wage. And since the Consuming Class is
merely the body politic, from one point of view, it is bound to
sacrifice the advantage of cheap buying for the sake of the rounded
advantage of the whole.

I. We have explained briefly to what every employee has a right--that is
to say, what every employer must give his workmen, or commit injustice.
We have assumed, further, that the employee often does not get what he
has a right to have.

Now, this is not always the employer's fault. Often an employer would be
glad to raise wages, to improve sanitary conditions, to shorten hours,
but the stress of competition prevents him.

But the employer being unable or unwilling to pay a proper wage, etc.,
what becomes of the employee's right? Does it cease? Has he no claim
upon anyone else?

Those who would fix an obligation on the Consuming Class say that the
employee's right does not cease. He has a claim, they contend, upon all
who in any way benefit by his labor, the strength of the claim depending
upon the closeness of the relationship, the importance of the benefit
derived, and the injustice suffered.

First of all, they point out, there is the rent-taker. But for the labor
of these men (assumed to be underpaid, etc.), there would be no return
out of which to pay rent. For the mere fact of ownership, which in
itself may not stand for any addition to the ground's productive
capacity, these men are allowed to take a part at least of what would be
necessary to raise the condition of the men producing the wealth to a
just standard. Therefore, because the rent-taker seems to receive the
most gratuitous benefit from the employee, the duty of the employer
devolves first upon him. If the employer fail, wilfully or not, to
fulfill his duties to his men, then they become binding upon the

Should he, too, fail, the laborer still has a claim. There is another
very important sharer in distribution--the interest-taker. It is true
that the product is the joint result of labor and capital. But when
there is the case of anonymous, impersonal capital receiving interest,
and living, breathing, human machines being under-fed and unprotected,
then humanity's claims supersede those of capital.[9] The inalienable
rights of the laborer, which Cardinal Capecelatro has so excellently
summarized, replace the alienable rights of the individual capitalists
based upon the mere possession of property. The interest-taker is bound
to give even the whole of his share to maintain a just standard of
wages, etc. And this principle is admitted in civil law by making wages
a first lien upon the product and exempting wages from legal action.[10]

But if the interest-taker, also, be unwilling to fulfill his duties,
there is still an economic element upon which the laborer has a
claim--the Consuming Class. Production on a huge scale, the
interposition of wholesalers and middlemen of all sorts, shopping by
mail or telephone, should not disguise the fact that the Consuming Class
are really employers. It is only in an indirect way, it is true, but
still a real way for all that. If the direct employer, the rent-and
interest-taker refuse or are unable to perform their duties, then
(leaving aside the legislature for the present) these devolve upon the
Consuming Class _in so far as they benefit by the laborer's work_.

This argument for the obligation of the Consuming Class is based upon
the devolution of duties. Here it may appear new and strange, because
applied to a new field, but it is admitted elsewhere as beyond
contradiction. If, for instance, parents will not or cannot support
their children, then the grandparents have just as real a duty towards
them as if they were their own immediate children. And if they, too,
neglect this duty, then it devolves upon collateral relatives until
finally it falls on mere neighbors.

Likewise, the Consuming Class, it is claimed, if those whose duty is
prior to theirs refuse to perform it, must fulfill the duty that has
devolved upon them. The rent-and interest-taker may be unjust to the
employee and to them, but that is not a valid excuse.

The same principle, though arrived at by a different process of
reasoning, underlies the dictum, coming to be more and more recognized
by legislators and economists, that the costs of production should be
borne by the Consumers. That is to say, that the risks of professional
hazard and accidents due to the carelessness of fellow-servants have
been transferred from the employee to the employer. Naturally then, the
employer compensates himself out of the price.

II. This question of the duty of the Consuming Class towards the men who
make or sell the goods they buy, may be viewed from another angle than
that of the devolution of duties or the obligation of indirect
employers. Leaving out of consideration the idea of indirect employer,
it is further contended that the Consuming Class, simply as purchasers,
may be guilty of injustice in another sense.

For what are the duties of the buyer? To pay the true "value" of an
article.[11] And what determines the true value of an article? Not
necessarily the price.

This may be fixed by law, as is the case with bread in many large
cities. A loaf of a certain weight must be sold for five cents. Or we
may have the natural or market price, which is determined by common
consent. This is nothing more than the price resulting from the
interaction of supply and demand.

But although ordinarily, justice is fulfilled if a person pay either the
legal or market price, neither is really based on justice. The price
fixed by law will come closer to being a just price. In a self-governing
community, it probably will not do a great injustice to either party for
any length of time. In this country its field is so limited, that it may
be disregarded in the present discussion.

The market price, however, makes no pretense of being determined by
justice. It is the shrewdness of one man pitted against the shrewdness
of another, or even the greed of one against the other's need. One wants
to sell for as high a price while the other wants to buy for as low a
price as he can. When there are numerous buyers and numerous sellers,
all knowing their business pretty well, the result will be a close
approximation to what would be a just price, if the cost to the
entrepreneur producing the commodities or the person managing the
distributing agency were all that should be taken into consideration. In
a society where the actual producer sells directly to the Consumer,
where there is no production on an enormous scale employing hundreds and
thousands of hands who have no voice in fixing the price of the product,
then the price reached by the higgling of the market is likely to be

Under the medieval system of craftsmen and one or two journeymen or
apprentices who formed part of the household it was possible (by lack of
competition) to maintain the rate of reward by limiting the supply. "No
serious attempt was made to push trade or develop business, but only to
carry on each trade according to the habitual rate of reward. According
to this policy, the conditions of the producer were allowed to be the
first consideration, and the consumer had to pay a price at which these
conditions could be maintained."[12]

But conditions of business have changed immensely since the Middle Ages.
The Industrial Revolution has brought big scale production, driving out
of existence the small producer ministering directly and immediately to
the wants of the community. Department stores have supplied the same
principle in the distributing end of industry, and very largely replaced
the small retailer. The employees of the big producer and distributor,
the ones most concerned, have no voice in fixing the price of the
article made or distributed by their labor. As a consequence competition
will often depress the price below the point where it will yield a
living wage to them. Not their rights determine this point, but what
crude irresistible hunger will force them to accept. Many times it is
only a difference between starving rapidly or slowly. But competition is

It is true, that sometimes the actual producers or distributors may not
be getting living wages because the entrepreneurs or the rent-or the
interest-takers are absorbing too much. But ordinarily it is probable
that stress of competition between capitalists and between managers will
keep their shares within fairly moderate bounds. Capital competes with
capital for a share in production just as one firm competes with another
to secure a market for its product. Hence it may be reasonably presumed
in any given case, when nothing is known to the contrary, that where the
laborers are insufficiently remunerated, it is because the price
obtained for their product will not cover just wages. Nor are
appearances always a safe guide. A man who owns and manages a factory
(thus drawing by himself alone wages of management, rent, and interest)
may seem able easily to afford higher wages. Yet to divide his whole
income among all his employees might give only an inappreciable increase
to each.

Therefore, it would seem that the principle of the market price being
just, cannot be applied strictly to-day. On the contrary, many persons
are claiming that the market price fixed by competition is usually
unjust. A better principle, a more fundamental principle, one that
really strikes its roots down into justice itself, would be to say that
a just price is one that will yield a just return to all concerned--the
actual laborers who produce the commodities, the clerks in the stores
that distribute them, wages of management to the entrepreneurs
concerned, and interest on the capital invested.

Certainly if this be not done, the equality between the "value" of the
article and the price is not preserved. And as Ballerini says, "when the
equality is not preserved, so that the seller sells for more than the
highest price or the buyer buys for less than the lowest ... injustice
is committed."[13]

But even though the price asked were sufficient to pay the employees
just wages and the entrepreneur simply refused to do it, would the
Consuming Class be justified in buying the article? It is contended that
they would not. For one of the duties of the seller is to give a just
title. And it would seem clear that one who hires a person to make a
certain article, playing upon his necessity to avoid paying what his
labor is worth, has not acquired a just title to the object produced.
There is something in that article for which he has not paid. Human
flesh and blood that has not been compensated for have gone into its
making. The seller not having a good title himself, cannot transfer such
to another. Persons who buy from him do not, therefore, secure a just
title, and hence, it is argued, commit a grave injustice by buying such
an article.[14]

III. The third argument adduced in favor of an obligation on the part of
the Consuming Class is, that the purchase of articles made under unjust
conditions is co-operation in the injustice. It makes no difference
whether or not the employers are formally guilty of injustice. They may
be forced by the competitive system, as many contend, to underpay their
workmen. Nevertheless, material injustice at least is committed, and the
Consuming Class have no right to co-operate formally in what may be
merely material injustice for another. Yet the Consuming Class by buying
goods made under unjust conditions does co-operate, it is alleged, in
three ways: (A) as the recipient of the result of the injustice; (B) by
furnishing the means for the act; (C) and by counselling the action.
"For a co-operator is one who at the same time with another is the
cause of the injury, whether secondary or equally principal, whether
positive or negative. For there is not the same manner of co-operation
in all cases, but this is common to all, that one person should concur
with another to commit an injury."[15]

(A) One of the ways of positively co-operating with an injustice, is by
receiving the results of the injustice. Thus a thief will not steal a
bulky piece of silver unless he has a fence to receive it, and the fence
becomes guilty of the theft by receiving the article. So a business man
will not manufacture an article and thus commit an injustice against the
laborers whom he underpays, unless he is reasonably sure some one will
receive this article after it is made. The persons who receive it, then,
or the purchasers, it is argued, are in the position of the thief's
fence: They are receiving an article that was obtained by injustice; and
it matters not whether the article was stolen outright or the injustice
committed in a more gentlemanly way. Nor does the fact of the
manufacturer committing the injustice to increase his profits, rather
than (as has been shown elsewhere) to meet a demand for cheapness on the
part of the Consuming Class, alter the situation. For a thief steals
for his own enrichment, not for the advantage of the recipient of the
stolen goods.[16]

(B) One can co-operate in an injustice not only by receiving the
results, but by furnishing the means for committing the injustice, and
it is contended that the Consuming Class co-operate also in this way.
Nor is this simply a different name for the co-operation just
considered. For in the previous case, the Consuming Class co-operated
with an act already performed in anticipation of this co-operation.
Whereas in the phase now under discussion they co-operate with an act to
be done in the future. A concrete example will make this clear. Mr. ----
invests $50,000 in the shoe business. After paying for his plant, raw
material, and the wages of his men until he has produced marketable
articles, he has practically nothing left. His continuance in business
depends upon his selling these articles to gain money for current
expenses. The purchasers of these goods co-operate (by receiving the
articles) in the injustice under which they are assumed to have been
manufactured, _and also_, by furnishing the necessary means, in the
injustice he will commit by manufacturing more under the same

(C) Nor is the Consuming Class's co-operation yet exhausted. For they
may be looked upon as truly counselling, voting for this injustice on
the part of the manufacturer. The Consumers do not go personally to the
manufacturer and urge him to produce a certain article at a certain
price, nor do they vote as specifically as an alderman for a contract
with a factory, but their action amounts to practically the same thing.
They go from one store to another seeking the cheapest price, and the
manufacturer knows this. To meet this demand (a very real, though to
some extent impersonal) demand for cheapness, the manufacturer commits
the injustice of underpaying his employees. It makes no difference
whether you call this "demand," or "counsel," or "voting," it is the
real cause of the injustice, and hence the Consuming Class are guilty of

It makes no difference if the Consumer knows that the injustice will
continue whether he purchase or not.[18] In purchasing he is guilty of
a moral wrong. For as a man who buys a ticket for an obscene show,
co-operates in this obscenity even though his money be not necessary for
its production, so do they participate in the manufacturer's
injustice.[19] Or, to give Ballerini's illustration, if ten men suffice
to launch a ship and an eleventh helps, certainly he is truly said to be
helpful.[20] In the same way, Consumers who buy an article that was made
under unjust conditions co-operate in this injustice even though it
would have taken place without the money received from their purchase.

For these reasons, it is contended, the Consuming Class, in buying goods
made under unjust terms, co-operate in this injustice by receiving the
goods, by furnishing the means for committing the injustice, and by
urging such production by practical financial support.

IV. We now come to the _social argument_, that is especially popular
to-day, though it is by no means new. It was familiar to the
Scholastics, and it was pithily formulated by Suarez as, "Public is to
be preferred to private good."[21] Aquinas expresses it more at length:
"For any individual in respect to what he is and has is related to the
multitude, just as a part is related to the whole: whence nature
sometimes injures a part to save the whole."[22] Elsewhere, Suarez
confers upon the civil law the power of binding in conscience because
"this power is necessary for the good government of the republic."[23]

Various extremely important and far-reaching rights and obligations are
fixed by this argument. It is lawful, for instance, for the state to
kill criminals "if they are dangerous and injurious to the
community."[24] Ballerini says it is lawful to kill a criminal in so far
as it is ordained for the safety of the whole society.[25] But only the
properly appointed persons have this right, because greater evils would
befall the _state_ if each one were the judge in his own case. (L. c.)
And not only may the state directly kill a guilty person, it may also,
when necessary for the _common good_ indirectly kill an _innocent_
person.[26] Wholesale organized slaughter, called war, is right and
proper when the good of the state requires it.[27] Whereas sedition is
wrong, because it violates the good of "public quiet and civil

Again, while suicide is unlawful, because, for one reason, a man is part
of the community and whoever kills himself does an injury to the
community, a man may yet lawfully expose himself to certain death for
the _good of the community_. Similarly, though it is illicit to cut off
a member of the body, because it is a part of the whole and cannot be
removed without injuring the whole (Aquinas, l. c., Q. 65, A. 1),
Liguori approves of at least one form of serious mutilation for the good
of the community.[29]

Private property is justified because it tends to the peace of the
state.[30] Lehmkuhl determines the gravity of an injustice not only from
the injury done to the individual, but also, "from the injury and danger
which the public good and security would suffer, if it were allowed with

Social necessity, then, is widely recognized as a valid proof for a
right or duty. The binding force of civil law, the wickedness of suicide
and self-mutilation, the morality of executing guilty and innocent, the
righteousness of private property, are all settled by this norm.
Therefore, since the social necessity of the average workman getting a
living wage is beyond contradiction, the Consuming Class, who benefit
especially by the labor of these workmen, are especially bound to see
that these rights are obtained.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have now considered the arguments advanced to prove that justice
binds the Consuming Class to see to it that goods are made under fair
terms. These arguments may be summarized as follows:

I. Because as indirect employers the Consuming Class are bound to
maintain just conditions for those whom they indirectly employ.

II. Because as buyers the Consuming Class are first bound to pay the
full value of the article, which must include sufficient to give the
persons employed in its manufacture and distribution a living wage,
etc.; and secondly, because the Consuming Class are bound not to buy an
article to which the seller has not a just title, the seller of an
article made under unjust conditions not having a just title since there
is work in the object for which he has not paid.

III. Because the Consuming Class would co-operate in an injustice in
three ways: (A) by receiving the goods made under unjust conditions; (B)
by furnishing the means for committing the injustice; (C) by urging such
production by this practical financial support.

IV. Because the Consuming Class are bound to seek the social good, and
that demands the payment of fair wages.


So far we have considered only the arguments for an obligation of
justice on the part of the Consuming Class. But may there not also be a
duty of charity?

Certain general considerations relating to this second of the two
greatest commandments, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," must
be referred to before answering that question.

The precept of charity requires us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
And by the term neighbor we mean everyone. No religion, "race, color,
or previous condition of servitude" removes a man from the category of
our neighbor. A Christian's love must be all embracing. T. H. Green has
well said that progress in civilization has been an enlargement of the
meaning of neighbor and neighborliness. The meaning of these terms, once
confined to one's relatives, then extended to one's city, tribe, nation,
has now widened out until it embraces the world.

But while we must look upon everyone as our neighbor, and love him as
ourselves, this does not mean that we must love each one in the same
degree. We must love him as ourselves, but not necessarily _as much as_
ourselves. We must have a universal internal love by which we wish our
neighbor well in his spiritual, corporal, and material goods and succor
him in necessity.

Yet the amount of good we wish him, and the strength of the obligation
to effect it, vary both with the special relationship existing between
us and our mutual conditions. By mutual conditions, is meant his state
of indigency and ours of prosperity. Almost innumerable grades of
necessity may be distinguished, but for present purposes four will be
sufficient: (1) extreme necessity, in which a person is in danger of
death, or will be very shortly; (2) quasi-extreme necessity, in which
one is in danger of falling into extreme necessity or a grave evil,
either perpetual or lasting for a long time; (3) grave necessity, where
one suffers a serious evil, but not for so long a period, or not so
great; (4) common necessity, when one experiences some inconvenience,
but not grievous inconvenience.

The obligation varies, too, with the conditions existing on our part.
For if the duty of succoring our neighbor from our own goods is to bind,
we must be in possession of superfluous goods. Otherwise our own need
would have a prior claim. Material possessions may be superfluous to
life, that is, just more than enough to keep body and soul together;
superfluous to our state in life, or goods without which we should have
to sink to a lower social plane; or superfluous to the decency of our
state, those over and above what are required even for the proper
support of our family in accordance with the usual custom of those in
the same position, the education and starting of our children in life,
the giving of charity, gifts, entertainment of guests, etc. This last
class of goods may be called absolutely superfluous.

Now, it would not seem rigoristic (especially in these days when the
right to any private property is seriously questioned) to say, that a
person in extreme or quasi-extreme necessity is to be succored from
goods that are necessary to the decent support of our station in life.
One merely in grave or common necessity need be helped only out of
absolutely superfluous goods. This would certainly be the minimum that
any Christian would require.

But this obligation also varies directly according to the closeness of
our relationship with the person in want. A connection of blood, whether
direct as between father and son, or collateral as between uncle and
nephew, evidently produces stronger reciprocal obligations of charity
than simple kinship through Adam. So, too, there is a stronger bond
between those who have assumed artificial relationships, such as a
pastor to his people, or those of the same religious faith, or those in
the same social class, or those who have acquired, whether voluntarily
or not, associational or economic ties. A captain, for example, has
greater obligations of charity towards a man in his own company than
towards one in another company, towards one in his regiment than towards
one in another regiment, and so on.

Certainly not least strong among these artificial relationships of
society is that of employer and employee. There was a time in social
organization, when the permanent subjection of Gurth to Cedric brought
out more clearly the mutual obligations. The ties of the relationship
seemed stronger because more lasting. Fortunately or unfortunately, the
right of free contract has abolished this permanency. Men wander from
one employer to another, from one city to another, from one country to
another. But no transitoriness of employment, no mobility of labor,
should obscure the fact that while the relationship of employer and
employee lasts, there also exist special and stronger obligations of
charity between the two.

Not as strong, probably, as between master and serf, yet nevertheless
too strong to be entirely fulfilled by the simple payment of the current
wage. As Carlyle says, "Never on this Earth was the relation of man to
man long carried on by Cash-payment alone.... Cash-payment never was, or
could except for a few years be, the union-bond of man to man. Cash
never yet paid one man fully his deserts to another: nor could it nor
can it, now or henceforth to the end of the world.... In brief, we shall
have to dismiss the Cash-Gospel rigorously into its own place: we shall
have to know, on the threshold, that either there is some infinitely
deeper Gospel, subsidiary, explanatory, and daily and hourly corrective
to the Cash one: or else that the Cash one itself and all others are
fast travelling."[32]

That infinitely deeper Gospel is the teaching of Christian charity. This
tells us that there is another bond between employer and employee than a
mere "cash-nexus." The needy employee has a claim upon his employer in
preference to others, and the employer must discharge it before
dispensing charity to those in no greater necessity who stand in no such
relation to him. Charity begins at home, and the employee is closer home
than one related simply by the tie of a common nature.

Of course, the relation between the direct employer and his workmen is
more obvious than that between the Consuming Class (which we have called
the indirect employer) and these same men. But the relation of the
latter is none the less real and important for being obscure.
Ordinarily it will probably be less close than that of the direct
employer, but circumstances are conceivable in which the situation would
be reversed.

And certainly it would seem that the benefit which the laboring class
confers upon the Consuming Class is such that there is some special
claim arising upon their charity. Not labor in itself but consumption is
the object of work, and this terminus of all activity, the Consuming
Class, would seem to be bound both in justice and charity to see that
their own satisfaction is not attained at the cost of the comfort and
happiness of those who minister to it.

       *       *       *       *       *

We may conclude, then, that if the direct employers fail to fulfill
their duties towards their employees, that the Consuming Class, as being
a beneficiary of the work done, are bound to assume these duties. As
yet, however, the obligation is abstract as being fixed upon a class and
not some particular individual about to purchase an article; and it is
hypothetical as simply assuming that employers neglect their duties.

The further question now presents itself: Do employers actually neglect
their duties, and what can and should the Consumer do?


[2] Great Encyclicals of Leo XIII, "On the Condition of Labor," p. 236:
N. Y., 1903.

[3] "Pope Pius X on Social Reform," London, 1910: p. 8.

[4] Kelleher, "Private Ownership," Dublin, 1911: p. 174; cf. also p.
179. Italics added.

[5] "Christ, the Church, and Man," p. 74: St Louis, 1909.

[6] Gury: "Compendium theologiæ moralis," n. 579: De just. et jure:
Ratisbon, 1874.

[7] See Appendix, 1.

[8] See Appendix, 2.

[9] Cf. John A. Ryan, "The Church and Interest-Taking," p. 31: St.
Louis, 1910.

[10] Cf. Bull. U. S. Bur. Lab., Jan. 1, 1911, pp. 876, 878, 881.

[11] Cf. St. Thomas, Summa, 2a 2ae, Q. 77, A. 1-2; St. Alphonsus, Lib.
IV, Tr. V, n. 793.

[12] W. Cunningham, "Christianity and Social Questions," p. 114: London,

[13] See Appendix, 3.

[14] Cf. Liguori, l. c.

[15] See Appendix, 4.

[16] Cf. De Lugo, XIX, II, 4-5.

[17] Cf. De Lugo, L. c., XVII, II, n. 37.

[18] L. c., n. 16, n. 19.

[19] Liguori, Lib. IV, Tr. IV, n. 427.

[20] Ballerini, op. cit., Vol. II, pp. 696-7.

[21] See Appendix, 5.

[22] See Appendix, 6.

[23] See Appendix, 7.

[24] Aquinas, l. c., Q.64, A.2.

[25] L. c., Pt. I, Tr. VI, Sec. V, n. 49.

[26] Liguori, l. c., Lib. IV, Tr. IV, n. 393; Ballerini, l. c, n. 62.

[27] Liguori, l. c., n. 402.

[28] Ballerini, l. c., n. 126.

[29] Liguori, l. c., n. 374.

[30] Aquinas, l. c., Q.66, A.2; Noldin, l. c., De Sept. Praec., n. 368,
ed. 8a.

[31] See Appendix, 8.

[32] "Past and Present," Bk. III, Ch. X.

                             CHAPTER THREE

                        WHAT IS A JUST EMPLOYER?

The terms "fair wages," "reasonable comfort," "living wage" have often
been used in the previous discussion. No attempt was made to make them
more definite because it was not necessary at the time. Employers were
simply assumed to violate the standard represented by these expressions.
But if we are going to decide _de facto_ that employers are actually
neglecting their duties, we must manifestly have some norm by which to
judge them.

What is this standard?

At first sight, this may seem easy to define. But its apparent ease is
an illusion. Even the simplest and least questionable standard, that of
bare subsistence (and to simplify it still further, restrict the
consideration entirely to the question of food), is extremely elusive.
Of course a man needs some clothing, a certain amount of fresh air, and
a shelter from the weather. But we shall have a sufficiently
complicated problem without introducing these factors.

How much food, then, does a man need to repair the daily waste and keep
him in good physical condition? This depends to some extent upon the
character of the work he does. A stevedore needs more food than a clerk.
It will depend, too, upon the climate. Those in northern latitudes
require more food, and usually of a more expensive kind, than those
living in the tropics, and they ought to have more in winter than in
summer. Again, racial characteristics must be taken into account. A
Chinese coolie may get fat on fish and rice, or an Italian may do well
on cheese and macaroni, while an Anglo-Saxon would starve on such a

In addition to all these points, there is an individuality about the
digestive organs that must be weighed. With our exact chemical science
it looks simple enough to calculate how much muscle and blood and
nervous force are lost in doing a certain amount of work, and just how
much food would be required in a given time to make good that loss. This
would be easy if we could buy muscle and nervous force done up in neat
packages and simply apply them where needed just as we apply a coat of
paint to a weather-beaten house. But, unfortunately, we cannot do this.
The brawn and nerve must be bought in entirely different forms, broken
up by certain interior organs, and gradually sent by a long and
complicated assimilating process to the point requiring them. And what
becomes of the subsistence standard if the organs of some people refuse
to assimilate what those of others heartily relish? or if at different
periods, and for no apparent reason, the same man can get no strength or
satisfaction from what he formerly craved?

But if we cannot tell what mere subsistence requires are we not getting
even vaguer when we add an indefinite "more" to it? When people talk of
"frugal comfort," "decent livelihood," "living wage," etc., what do they
mean? Do these terms mean to-day just what they did fifty years ago or
will mean half a century hence?

A little reflection will show us that they do not. They are largely
relative. When the gentry scorned to read and write, farm hands could
hardly consider it an injustice not to have instruction in the three Rs;
and when everybody went barefoot, it would have been foolish to riot
for shoes. As means of production are perfected, as we get away from the
danger of starvation, always threatening primitive nomadic peoples, the
standard of living of the more fortunate rises, as does that standard
which they are willing to allow the lower classes, and which the lower
classes demand.

As a consequence, what is looked upon in one age as just and generous,
may in another be considered thoroughly unfair. Concrete standards of
justice vary with the time and are soon superseded by others. This is an
important fact, and it must be mastered before one can use the current
standard with honesty or intelligence. The principle of justice upon
which the changing concrete standard is based, the moral right of each
individual as a human being to the fullest development of all his
faculties consistent with such rights in others, is doubtless
unchanging. But it is conditioned by the stage of production that
society has reached, upon how much there is to go round; and the wage
necessary to secure this standard is conditioned by governmental
supplement such as free education, insurance, etc. It would seem
impossible, therefore, to determine the exact wage that a particular
individual is entitled to until we can determine the total net product
and this individual's contribution to it as compared with other
individuals. We are not aware that this has been done.

The attempt has been made, however, to establish both the absolute
minimum standard and this relative standard. In the sixteenth volume of
the report of the United States Bureau of Labor on "Woman and Child
Wage-Earners in the United States," the former is fixed at $400.00. But
have we an absolute minimum below which wages could not fall without
endangering existence when a girl of ten and a boy of six are allowed
more money for clothing than their mother?

Upon the relative living wage, whole volumes have been written. But they
would seem either to deal with the concrete expression of the standard
of a particular class, or, if they do attempt to establish the right of
individuals here and now to a particular remuneration in money, they do
not quite prove their contention.

But there are people who believe that the right of the laborer to a
specific wage (and hence the employer's obligation of paying it) can be
demonstrated. Dr. John A. Ryan, whose treatise on "The Living Wage" has
attracted marked attention, has made such a claim for an estimate of
$600.00 as a family living wage in cities of five hundred thousand or
over in the United States.[33]

This was in 1906 and the cost of living has advanced considerably since
then. Dr. Ryan would probably, therefore, not consider too high the
estimate of the Bureau of Labor (l. c.) of $600.00 for cotton mill
operatives in the South. Under this standard, the father supports the
family, the mother stays at home looking after the house, and the
children go to school. It includes insurance.

Now for the sake of argument let us assume that laborers have a strict
right in justice to a standard represented by $600.00 a year in a
Southern mill town. I must reluctantly admit that $600.00 cannot be
proved conclusively to be the sum to which all laborers have a right.
But for the time being we shall take it for granted, and from the
standpoint of this assumption judge the justice or injustice of
industrial conditions.

I have said that I do not think that this obligation can be _proved
conclusively_, that is, as conclusively as a proposition in geometry.
But I do think that it is capable of the same proof that we have for
many other moral truths that pass unquestioned. We must beware of
applying to new propositions that corrosive logic which, if impartially
exercised on old and new alike, would destroy the very basis of

This principle, that moral truths cannot be absolutely demonstrated, is
generally admitted and many concrete examples could be given from
prominent ethicists: thus De Lugo in speaking of so fundamental a
question as the unlawfulness of suicide, does not hesitate to say: "The
whole difficulty consists in assigning a reason for this truth: for
though its [suicide's] turpitude is immediately apparent, it is not easy
to find the foundation of this judgment: whence (_a thing that happens
in many other questions_) the conclusion is more certain than the
reason adduced by various authors for its proof."[34]

Again, Ballerini, in treating of the unlawfulness of one of the sins
mentioned by St. Paul in the sixth chapter of his first Epistle to the
Corinthians, remarks that "it is most difficult to assign a reason for
this." Then, after rejecting all the reasons usually brought forward, he
adds: "It must be admitted that there are some practical truths
necessary for the right association of men with each other, which men
feel and perceive by a sort of rational instinct, whose reason,
nevertheless (at least a demonstrative one), when these same men seek it
analytically, they find it hard to discover. It would seem that nature,
or the Author of our nature, wished to supply the defect of the exercise
of reason by an instinct or rational sense of this kind: ... Among the
truths of this nature, the one of which we treat happens to be

If unquestioned authorities like Ballerini and De Lugo admit their
inability to prove such fundamental and important obligations (it will
be noted that De Lugo says there are _many_ such) as those of
refraining from the above mentioned sins, it need not surprise us to
find that the obligations of Consumers cannot be proved _apodictically_.
It would be foolish, therefore, to claim absolutely to demonstrate this
obligation. All that can be done is to adduce the same proofs that
Aquinas, Suarez, and other master minds have used to fix other duties,
and show that they have equal force in the present discussion. It is
simply the familiar argument _a pari_, and the claim would seem
reasonable, that any objectors meeting these arguments on purely
rational grounds, must show that they do not equally apply to this
obligation, or else deny their force as proof for the other duties.


[33] Others have approximated this estimate, though possibly without
giving it exactly the same ethical implications as Dr. Ryan. Thus
Chapin, "Standard of Living in New York City," N. Y., p. 245, claims
$800.00 as the minimum for New York City. Miss Butler, "Women and the
Trades," N. Y., p. 346, says $7.00 a week for a single woman in
Pittsburgh. The United States Bureau of Labor in the third volume of its
report on "Woman and Child Wage-Earners in the United States," p. 560,
declares for $2.00 a week per capita.

[34] See Appendix, 9.

[35] See Appendix, 10.

                              CHAPTER FOUR


Modern industrial conditions may be considered either _a priori_ or _a
posteriori_, either theoretically or _de facto_. We may examine the
principles of economic organization, and conclude that they will or will
not lead to low wages; or we can go to the facts themselves, and decide
from an examination of actual conditions whether or not wages are low,
etc., always remembering the standard we have adopted.

Beginning with the first method, we may, speaking roughly and with
sufficient allowance for monopolies, say that we live under a
competitive system. Men compete with others for their share in the
product of industry. Goods are not put in one general fund and
distributed according to each one's needs. Nor are they awarded to suit
the whim of some ruler. Undoubtedly our present industrial organization
is individualistic rather than socialistic, and its chief characteristic
is probably a rivalry between its various members. Some assume that
competition is universal and unrestrained. Then they draw conclusions as
to the present system from what would happen if such competition
prevailed. Others forget that competition is as universal as it really
is, and that it exists not only between laborer and laborer to get the
job, but between capitalist and capitalist to secure the laborer.

To subscribe to either of these errors will vitiate any conclusions as
to social policy. For if unrestrained competition have certain evil
tendencies, we cannot therefore assume that the present restricted form
will have such results. And the fact that competition exists between
capitalists as well as between laborers has very wide-reaching
implications. It means no less than that competition may raise wages as
well as lower them.

The average person is apt to look upon an object as drawn only to the
earth by gravitation. He forgets that the same force is also pulling at
it in an opposite direction. And in the same way the average person is
likely to forget that competition is continually pulling wages both up
and down. If we imagine some object suspended between the earth and the
moon, and being constantly drawn towards each according to some power
inherent in them which varies from time to time so that the object now
approaches one and now the other, we shall have a rough illustration of
how competition affects wages.

We can look upon the amount of wages as the object of attraction between
competition on the part of laborers and competition on the part of
capitalists. According as competition among capitalists is keen as
compared with that among laborers, wages will rise, and vice versa; just
as when, in our illustration, gravity was strong in the moon, the object
rose towards it, and when it was stronger in the earth the object fell
towards that body. But in both cases the result is due to the same
force, though acting from different points. It would be an error,
therefore, to attribute all the evils of our present system to
competition, and all the good to some other agency. Competition has good
results as well as bad, and this two-fold influence must always be

Doubtless absolutely unrestrained competition between laborers with no
corresponding rivalry between capitalists would depress wages. But such
competition does not exist. Competition is not absolutely unrestricted.
It is limited by organization among the workmen, by legislation, by
natural ability, and in various other ways. As a result, the effects are
limited in various ways. If a bricklayers' union is strong enough
practically to eliminate competition between this class of laborers
while capitalists compete with each other to obtain their services, then
the working out of competition has been modified in such a way as to
have an upward effect upon wages.

Competition, then, is not necessarily bad. In many cases, competition is
not only the life of trade, but the builder of character as well. As a
whole, those who have to earn their living amid keen business rivalry
are more energetic, quickwitted and resourceful than those government
employees who live in a somewhat listless, non-competitive atmosphere.
And the superiority of Western to Eastern civilization and character may
be due to the fact that there competition has been too much limited by
caste systems, repressive legislation, and unchanging custom.

Under the restricted form of competition existing to-day, many employers
pay living wages and treat their employees fairly in every way. Indeed,
the entrepreneur sometimes finds it to his advantage to give his
employees even more than strict justice would demand. When competition
for workmen is keen between employers, certain inducements may be
necessary to prevent experienced men leaving and to avoid the consequent
loss of breaking in new laborers.

At any rate we find that many employers do all that can reasonably be
expected. For instance, in contrast with the conditions of the garment
trade prevailing in many places, the Pittsburgh Survey found two
factories in that city to be run on excellent lines. They were
well-lighted by large windows, the ventilation was good, the walls newly
whitewashed, and the floors swept and scrubbed. In one, indeed, the
upper windows were opened at intervals, and the work-rooms had windows
on three sides. (Butler, l. c., p. 109.) Nine others were good because
they were swept daily and exhibited a manifest standard as to a
work-room (l. c., p. 107). One firm, too, was found to allow its
employees to share in its progress. Thus when new buttonhole machines
were introduced a few years ago the girls could turn out a third more
work than formerly, but they were paid at the same piece-rate (l. c.,
pp. 119-120).

The variation between individual stores as regards wages will be shown
from the following table, adapted from page 121 of the first volume of
the Pittsburgh Survey:

               |           | Weekly wages  |
    Article    |  No. of   +-------+-------+ Average
  manufactured | operators |  Min. |  Max. |
  Shirts       |    15     | $ 6   | $12   |  $ 7
  Shirts       |     1     |  10   |  10   |
  Shirts       |     3     |   8   |  10   |    8
  Shirts       |    24     |   6   |   8   |    8
  Shirts and   |           |       |       |
   Overalls    |    39     |   4   |  12   |    8
  Overalls     |    26     |   6   |  10   |    8
  Overalls     |    75     |   6   |  10.5 |    7
  Shirts       |     5     |   7   |  11   |
  Shirts       |    18     |   7   |  14   |   10
  Shirts       |    51     |   5   |  15   |    8
  Shirts       |     7     |   6.5 |  12   |    8
  Pants        |   114     |   4   |  14   |    9
  Pants        |    37     |   3   |  12   |    8
  Pants        |     6     |   3   |   9   |    7
  Pants        |   284     |   4   |   9   |    7
  Pants        |    10     |   4   |   9   |    8

Such differences are reproduced in all the needle trades.[36]

Similar distinctions are also found in laundries. A very few have
properly constructed plants, with wash-rooms on the upper floors and
some arrangement for carrying off the inevitable steam (Butler, l. c.,
p. 170). In one, however, there are "exhaust pipes over the mangles, and
fans in the walls, and there are windows along the side. The feeders are
seated while handling small work, and the folders have comfortable
benches" (p. 174). Wages, too, are considerably higher here than in
other laundries. Four laundries in Pittsburgh have adopted an improved
cuff-ironing machine which saves the operator from the extreme physical
exertion of the old style (p. 182). A North Side laundry has set aside a
bright sunny section of the building "for a lunch-room; there are
attractive dishes, tables covered with white cloths, comfortable chairs.
The noon interval is an hour and a half" (p. 312).

Turning to mercantile houses we also find a great contrast. Some provide
only half a dozen chairs for five hundred girls, while others do not
allow chairs to be used at all.[37] Many stores have a working week at
Christmas of from seventy-two to eighty-four hours without extra pay
(Butler, l. c., p. 303). "Some employers are generally reputed among
salesgirls to assume that their women employees secure financial backing
from outside relationships, and knowingly pay wages that are
supplementary rather than wages large enough to cover the cost of a
girl's support." (L. c., p. 306.) Indeed, some employers frankly admit
this and advertise for sales-women, "preferably those living at

Compare with these stores the one that "exemplifies a higher standard at
each point under discussion; in the comprehensiveness of its ventilating
system; in its observance of the spirit of the law in providing an
average of four seats to a counter for its employees; in the fact that
it has no Christmas overtime; ... and finally in its wage standard....
Seven hundred girls are paid $7.00; ... one hundred girls are paid $8.00
to $10.00, and sometimes $15.00 in the case of a head of stock."
(Butler, l. c., p. 304.)

Some glass factories furnish shutters over the leer-mouths to protect
employees from heat;[39] prevent radiation from the melting tanks by
various devices (l. c., p. 79); provide blue glass screens at the glory
holes (ib.); artificially cool the shops in summer (l. c., p. 80); work
shorter hours (p. 98); eliminate night-work (p. 104); provide hoods and
exhausts for the etching baths (p. 322) and the sand blasts (p. 317). In
one woolen factory the milligrams of dust in a cubic centimeter of air
were reduced from twenty to seven by the installation of an

The fact, too, that organizations such as trade unions and consumers'
leagues can allow the use of their labels to certify that an article has
been made under fair conditions, is a striking confirmation of the fact
that some manufacturers do maintain proper factories and treat their
employees justly.

Nevertheless, competition has a black as well as a silver lining. It is
self-evident that for any length of time laborers cannot get more than
the total product of their work coupled with the necessary capital. Nor
will it be denied that capitalists will always be in a position to
appropriate a part of this joint product, how much depending very
largely upon the relative supply of capital and labor and the keenness
of competition between them. The share that is left and which goes to
the laborers is not divided equally. It is distributed competitively.
Those who are economically strongest seize what they can, and the
weaklings must be content with the remainder. Frequently this is not
sufficient to afford them the standard we are considering, but they are
helpless to remedy matters.

And there are some things that tend to keep this share at a minimum.
Industrial organization is not simply a case of competition between
capital and labor, but capitalists are competing with capitalists as
well as with laborers, and laborers with each other as well as with
capitalists. The result is that the weakest parties to this fray get hit
hardest, and their only hope would seem to be the addition of some other
check to competition that will prevent the present distressful
consequences. This is not to say, as Socialists argue, that competition
is to be abolished entirely, for we have seen that it may really have
excellent effects for the workman. Rather it is to be harnessed and
guided into beneficent channels, as a miller directs a stream to turn a
wheel. He does not destroy the stream but makes it do his will.

An analysis of industrial society will show, I think, that despite the
good work the stream of competition is doing, there is a little eddy
undermining the bank and working havoc in some places. The description
of one phase of competition, even though it be isolated from the rest,
will probably give a correct enough idea of how this force while working
out to the advantage of some, is resulting in harm to others. The
considerations that must be omitted in a short sketch do not change the
matter essentially. They limit the hardship wrought, but they do not
prevent a considerable number of workmen from being mercilessly ground

Modern industry, then, is organized for sale, not use. Business men care
nothing about what they manufacture so long as they can find a
profitable sale for the article. The typical employer makes shoes not
because he likes to, as an artist may paint a picture. He does it
because he thinks a sufficient number of purchasers will want this
commodity at a price paying him for his trouble.

But to get these purchasers he must (unless he have some sort of
monopoly) offer his product at a price no higher than other
manufacturers are willing to take for the same article. If he deviate
only a few cents, the expert buyers of retail stores will know it and go
elsewhere. There is a constant demand for cheapness, a universal
eagerness to "get your money's worth"; and factories and retail firms
must meet it, or see their trade taken away by competitors. The intense
desire of individual buyers for minute savings of a cent here or a
fraction of a cent there, becomes, in the aggregate, an irresistible
Demand with a capital D, "a blood-power stronger than steam," compelling
the retailer (who in his turn reacts upon the manufacturer) to sell
cheap. "The phenomena of sweating are a standing warning against the
dangers that are inherent in unregulated competition.... The underlying
cause of the evil," affirms a noted English economist, "is certainly to
be found in the indiscriminate preference of the public for that which
is low-priced."[41]

The seller, then, must meet the Consumer's demands; and since these are
for cheapness, he must sell cheap. But how can cheapness be obtained?
Only by cutting down the expenses of production. Other manufacturers
possess the same machinery, about the same advantages of location, and
approximately the same talent. Given a system of unrestrained
competition, each firm will have to count costs to within a fraction of
a cent and reduce expenses to the lowest possible amount. To this end
wages are often cut, workmen speeded, and the health of employees

"No one of us," says the manager of a big department store in St. Louis,
"has any particular consideration in the purchase price of goods; the
ease of communication and the large amount of advertising make it
impossible for us to have any serious advantage over others in point of
selling price. The women can go from one store to another, effectually
preventing one store from being materially higher priced on the same
goods than another.

"The great struggle is over the expense account. This brings up the
whole question of salaries, the amount that can be paid to employees
directly, the amount that is spent by us in caring for them,
compensation for length of service.... All these have to be handled from
the expense account, and it is on this point that some of the most
delicate questions of morals arise, and they involve both the employer
and the customer in the treatment of the employee."[42]

It is true that some economists have maintained that the price of an
article must cover its cost of production.[43] But as Professor Carver
says, such an opinion "is probably the source of more error and
confusion in economic discussions than any other mistake." (Loc. cit.)
It may be granted, indeed, that the price will never be much below the
_expenses_ of production, understanding by "expenses of production" what
the entrepreneur must pay out in wages, interest, etc. Yet even this is
not because the expenses of production directly govern prices. They
affect the price only indirectly by limiting the supply. For no
entrepreneur will long continue in business if he be not able to sell
his product at a profit, and his going out of business will decrease the
supply and so raise the price by the well-known law of supply and

But "costs of production," being the sum of the efforts and sacrifices
of all concerned in making an article, are very different from "expenses
of production."[44] It is by no means true, as Professor Sidgwick
pointed out twenty-five years ago, that the amount necessary to enable a
laborer to keep himself in good physical condition and reproduce himself
forms a minimum below which the self-interest of an employer will not
allow wages to fall.[45]

For in the first place, there is no assurance that a laborer is going to
spend his wages for this purpose. How, then, can it be to his employer's
advantage to pay him more than he is willing to take, when the surplus
may be squandered in drink? And even assuming that the generality of
laborers must receive such an amount in order to meet the demand for
workmen, still they need not all receive it from their employers. An
industry, such as the department stores, may try to get girls who obtain
part of their support from fathers or brothers employed in other
businesses.[46] Or wages of large classes may be supplemented by public
or private alms. This was long the case under the English Poor Law. As
the land-occupiers paid the greater portion of the rates, it was to the
Manufacturers' advantage to have wages really come partly from the

And the numbers of laborers can be kept stationary without each workman,
or even every class, receiving enough to perpetuate himself. For their
ranks can easily be recruited from an over-supply of some higher class.
There is a constant pressure upon the upper strata, forcing down the
unfit, and it is readily conceivable that these failures should take the
places of still greater failures below.

There is, then, no physical or economic necessity forcing employers to
pay fair wages to each individual worker, in the sense in which we are
using the word "fair" for the sake of argument. "The effort to organize
business with a view to cheap production, may be carried on in such
fashion as to press unduly on those who work for wages; employers are in
a position in which they may be able to drive hard bargains as to hours
of work and rates of pay, and to pass on the risk of loss, which arises
from fluctuations of business, to be borne by those who are thrown out
of employment."[47] And not only may this, but there is every inducement
and almost necessity urging that it should, be done except where the
workmen are organized. No employer can afford to pay a workman more than
his surplus over and above what would be produced without him, and it
will be to his advantage to pay less. He is a purchaser of labor, and
like every other purchaser wants to get that commodity at the lowest
figure. And there are several differences between him and the purchaser
of any other commodity that give him a distinct advantage in the

In the first place, not merely increased profits, what would be
represented by a housewife's saving in shopping, urge him to buy cheap
labor, but his own industrial existence, which will be lost if he does
not get his workmen as cheap as his competitors. Having a greater prize
at stake, he develops a greater skill. He has a wider view of economic
conditions, a better knowledge of the state of trade elsewhere, and so
he can outbargain the unorganized laborer.

Again, the laborer is in a worse position than the seller of almost any
other commodity. For what he does not sell to-day disappears absolutely.
If he does not dispose of it now he cannot to-morrow. A fruiterer can
keep his oranges until the next day, if he is not satisfied with the
current price. But to-day's labor can be sold only to-day. And if it be
not sold, it is probable that the workman will be physically less fit
to-morrow. Yet even if he does accept the wage offered, and it is less
than enough to repair the daily waste of force, the same result will be
brought about gradually. He is, therefore, confronted by the dilemma of
taking what the idle are willing to accept, or becoming idle himself.

It needs only the imagining of one's self in the position of the
unemployed to see that there is hardly any limit below which the wages
of the weakest may not fall. A man without special skill and without
savings, with not only himself but others to look out for, will be glad
to get even what he knows will not completely support him.

"Without organization and by means of individual bargaining, wages are
drawn downward toward the level set by what idle men will accept, which
may be less than they will produce after they receive employment and
will surely be less than they will produce after they have developed
their full efficiency. When labor makes its bargains with employers
without organization on its side, the parties in the transaction are not
on equal terms and wages are unduly depressed. The individual laborer
offers what he is forced to sell, and the employer is not forced to buy.
Delay may mean privation for the one party and no great inconvenience or
loss for the other. If there are within reach a body of necessitous men
out of employment and available for filling the positions for which
individual laborers are applying, the applicants are at a fatal
disadvantage."[48] Such is the opinion of a conservative economist with
an especially kindly feeling towards the competitive system.

It would seem, therefore, that the competitive organization of industry
has a tendency to crush out the weaklings. How numerous are these
weaklings, we shall now discuss.


[36] L. c., pp. 121, 122, 134, 152; U. S. Bur. Lab., "Men's Ready-Made
Clothing," p. 303.

[37] Butler, p. 301; U. S. Bur. Lab., "Women Wage-Earners in Stores and
Factories," pp. 109, 178.

[38] U. S. Bur. Lab., l. c., p. 22; Report Minneapolis Vice Commission,
1911, p. 127.

[39] U. S. Bur. Lab., "Glass Industry," p. 54.

[40] U. S. Bur. Lab., "Industrial Hygiene," 1908, p. 79.

[41] W. Cunningham, "Christianity and Social Questions," pp. 122-123:
London, 1910.

[42] "The Socialised Church," p. 120, address on "The Relation of the
Church to Employees in Department Stores," by Hanford Crawford, B.S.:
St. Louis, N. Y., 1909.

[43] Cf. T. N. Carver, "Distribution of Wealth," p. 31: N. Y., 1908.

[44] Cf. H. R. Seager, "Introduction to Political Economy," pp. 53-54:
N. Y., 1908.

[45] H. Sidgwick, "Principles of Political Economy," p. 297: London,

[46] Cf. "Wage-Earning Women in Stores and Factories," p. 22: U. S.
Bureau of Labor, 1911.

[47] W. Cunningham, "Christianity and Social Questions," p. 118: London,

[48] J. B. Clark, "Essentials of Economic Theory," pp. 453 and 456: N.
Y., 1907.

                              CHAPTER FIVE

                      INDUSTRIAL CONDITIONS: WAGES

What has been said regarding industrial conditions is not mere
theorizing. Private, state and federal investigations into actual
conditions confirm the contention that there is a large margin of
unemployed, and that a considerable portion of those who do find
employment are overworked and underpaid regardless of life and limb.
Anyone who studies the various official reports on this subject, must
conclude that Dr. Devine's summary of the _Pittsburgh Survey_ was well
within the truth and is applicable to practically the whole country:

     "Low wages for the great majority of the laborers employed by the
     mills, not lower than in other large cities, but low compared with
     the prices--so low as to be inadequate to the maintenance of a
     normal American standard of living; wages adjusted to the single
     man in the lodging house, not the responsible head of a family.

     "Still lower wages for women, who receive, for example, in one of
     the metal trades, in which the proportion of women is great enough
     to be menacing, one-half as much as unorganized men in the same
     shops and one-third as much as men in the union.

     "The destruction of family life; not in any imaginary or mystical
     sense, but by the demands of the day's work, and by the very
     demonstrable and material method of typhoid fever and industrial
     accidents; both preventable, but both costing in single years in
     Pittsburgh considerably more than a thousand lives, and
     irretrievably shattering nearly as many homes."[49]

Assuming, throughout this discussion, that $6.00 a week ($1.00 a week
less than Miss Butler's estimate), or $312.00 a year is the lowest fair
individual wage; and $11.00 a week, or $572.00 a year is the lowest fair
family living wage:[50] it is easy to show from reliable reports that
scores of thousands of individuals and heads of families fall below this
standard. But in considering any figures quoted here, or to be found
elsewhere, it should always be remembered that the actual wage may be
much below the rate of wage. One employed at the rate of $6.00 a week
may not make anything like that because of loss of time.

How much is lost through unemployment, it is hard to say. The United
States Industrial Commission was of the opinion, that "it is impossible
to collect statistics of any value whatever relative to the unemployment
of unorganized labor, among whom lack of employment is a much more
serious thing than it is with skilled or organized labor."[51] It would
seem, however, that in the clothing trades, the employees lose at least
one day in every six.[52] According to a Federal report issued in 1911,
in Baltimore one-fifth of the force worked between five days and full
time; one-tenth between four and five days; one-seventh between two and
three, and five per cent, two days or less.[53] A report of the New York
State Bureau of Labor for 1906[54] contains the following suggestive
table regarding the unemployment of certain classes of _organized_
labor. It may rightly be assumed that among unorganized workmen
conditions are worse.

                                  TABLE I.


      | No. of | No. of |No. idle|Per  ||           Per cent idle
  Mon.| unions | memb'rs| at end |cent |+------+------+------+------+------
      |report'g|report'g|of month|idle || 1905 | 1904 | 1903 | 1902 |1902-5
  Jan.|   191  | 84,539 | 12,682 |15.  || 22.5 | 25.8 | 20.5 | 20.9 | 22.4
  Feb.|   190  | 85,155 | 13,031 |15.3 || 19.4 | 21.6 | 17.8 | 18.7 | 19.4
  Mch.|   192  | 25,956 |  2,952 |11.6 || 19.2 | 27.1 | 17.6 | 17.3 | 20.3
  Apr.|   192  | 90,352 |  6,583 | 7.3 || 11.8 | 17.0 | 17.3 | 15.3 | 15.4
  May |   192  | 91,163 |  6,364 | 7.0 ||  8.3 | 15.9 | 20.2 | 14.0 | 14.6
  June|   192  | 92,100 |  5,801 | 6.3 ||  9.1 | 13.7 | 23.1 | 14.5 | 15.1
  July|   195  | 94,571 |  7,229 | 7.6 ||  8.0 | 14.8 | 17.8 | 15.6 | 14.1
  Aug.|   195  | 94,220 |  5,462 | 5.8 ||  7.2 | 13.7 | 15.4 |  7.1 | 10.9
  Sep.|   195  | 94,290 |  5,252 | 6.3 ||  5.9 | 12.0 |  9.4 |  6.3 |  8.4
  Oct.|   195  | 92,052 |  6,383 | 6.9 ||  5.6 | 10.8 | 11.7 |  4.2 |  9.8
  Nov.|   195  | 93,042 |  7,052 | 7.6 ||  6.1 | 11.1 | 16.4 | 14.3 | 12.0
  Dec.|   195  | 93,318 | 14,352 |15.4 || 11.1 | 19.6 | 23.1 | 22.2 | 19.0
  Mean for year|        |        | 9.3 || 11.2 | 16.9 | 17.5 | 14.8 | 15.1

Other deductions that must be made from the apparent wage are the
withholding of pay for long periods, exorbitant prices and rents
obtained through company stores and houses, fines, and increases in the
cost of living.

Therefore, it is not unreasonable to conclude that the per diem or
weekly wage rate as given by the Bureau of Labor and other reports,
affords, by itself, an accurate statement only of the maximum yearly
wage. This should always be remembered in judging any facts hereafter

In the fifteenth volume of the bulletins of the Bureau of Labor will be
found many interesting tables bearing on this question of wages. But as
it is impracticable to quote them at any length here, a few of the more
salient facts must suffice. Laborers in the flour mills of the South
were working twelve hours a day for 11c. an hour.[55] Women in the
carpet factories of the North were getting no more.[56] In the factory
product of the clothing trade great numbers received less than 10c.,
11c., and 12c. an hour (p. 35), and the compensation in sweatshops was
much less. Male boarders in the knit-goods factories of the
North-Central section were averaging less than $387.00 per annum. Women
in the same factories were getting much less, some even as low as 7c.
and 8c. an hour (p. 43). Silk-spinners in the North-Atlantic section
were making only $5.00 a week, or less than $260.00 a year, for a nine
and one-half hour day (p. 58). Male cigar-stemmers in the same section
were making $6.00 a week (p. 59). In Michigan, in 1905, there were 3414
boys between fourteen and sixteen earning on an average 77c. a day, and
1725 girls making 64c. a day. In 1904, the average yearly earnings in
the food preparations industry was $441.00; in salt production, $451.00;
on tobacco and cigars, $393.00 (p. 334).

In New Jersey, in 1904-5, the average earnings in the cigar industry
were $316.70; silk-weaving, $480.11; woolen and worsted goods, $373.43.
In the same State in 1903-4, there were 1985 adult males receiving less
than $3.00 a week; 3234 between $3.00 and $4.00; 5595 between $4.00 and
$5.00; 6037 between $5.00 and $6.00; 12,406 between $7.00 and $8.00;
14,300 between $8.00 and $9.00, though $9.00, working full time every
week, would be only $468.00 a year.

The very latest reports available confirm these figures. In the cotton
textile industry alone, 29,974 employees, or 53.77% of the total number
investigated (11,484 men and 18,490 women) were being paid at a rate
less than $6.00 a week.[57] If we take the $11.00 rate, or family living
wage, we find that 19,382 men (89% of the total) fall below it (l. c.).
And as only 55% of the men employed in this industry were single (l. c.,
p. 132), at least 7285 of these men must have been married, and hence
receiving less than the normal family living wage. It must be
remembered, too, that these figures are based upon the assumption that
full time is made. Could we get the actual wages, these groups would be
much larger. This is shown by the table on page 329 of this report,
where actual wages average $1.32 less than computed full time earnings.

If we turn to the clothing industry, we find conditions even worse. In
the five cities investigated (New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Rochester,
and Philadelphia), 6788 employees, or 37% of the total (1217 men and
5571 women) were being paid at a rate less than the individual living
wage of $6.00. Taking the family living wage of $11.00 as our standard,
3499 men, or 62% of the total, fail to reach it.[58]

Again it must be repeated, that the actual wages are from 7-1/2 to
20-1/2% lower than these figures (l. c., p. 161). In one New York
special order shop, the earnings for December fall to 55% of the
average (l. c., p. 178).

These figures, however, are for shop-workers only. The _average_ wages
for home-workers are: Chicago, $4.35; Rochester, $4.14; New York, $3.61;
Philadelphia, $2.88; and Baltimore, $2.24. "Here again the caution must
be borne in mind that home-workers' wages, low as they are, often stand
for the earnings of more than one worker. Sometimes, as reported on the
books of the firm, it represents the earnings of more than one week" (l.
c., p. 139). Ninety-eight per cent. of the married shop-finishers, and
practically all of the home-finishers, too, earned less than $350.00 a
year (l. c., p. 226). The average yearly earnings of home-workers are
given as varying from $120.00 in New York to $196.00 in Rochester. From
page 235 to 239 inclusive, the details of the earnings, size of
families, and number of those working is gone into at great length. It
must suffice here to say that families of five are recorded whose total
yearly earnings are less than $100.00. One family of eleven is
chronicled whose yearly income was $445.00, sixty-five dollars of which
was earned by home-work. Working six days a week for ten hours a day,
the home-worker cannot hope to make more than $156.00 a year.[59]

Seventy-six per cent. of the women employed in the glass industry earned
less than six dollars a week.[60] Their average annual earnings, in
fact, are stated as ranging from $163.00 for those sixteen years old to
$292.00 for those from twenty-five to twenty-nine (l. c., p. 544).
Nearly one-third of the female department-store employees receive less
than $6.00 a week.[61] Yet many of them had other persons depending upon
them (l. c., p. 55). One family, consisting of a mother,
seventeen-year-old daughter, and three younger children, was supported
by the daughter's $5.00 a week. They managed it by living in two rooms
and eating practically nothing besides bread and tea or coffee (l. c.,
p. 56).

In New York State in 1906,[62] it was found that even among organized
laborers reporting to the Bureau of Labor, 6078 men and 2011 women were
earning less than the lowest individual living wage ($300.00), and
59,226 men and 8881 women (17.6% and 63.8% respectively) were earning
less than the lowest family living wage ($600.00). If conditions were so
bad among union men, they were probably much worse among unorganized

In Pittsburgh, in the canneries, 59% of the girls make only $6.00 a
week, or less (Butler, l. c., p. 38). Of those employed in the
confectionery trades, only twenty-one earn as much as seven dollars (l.
c., p. 50). And these two trades have inevitable dull seasons that cut
wages much below these figures. Seven hundred out of nine hundred girls
in the cracker business receive less than $6.00 a week (l. c., p. 70).
Laundries are amongst the worst paying establishments, and there is
practically no chance of advancement. The shakers-out never earn more
than $4.00 a week, and usually only $3.00 or $3.50 (l. c., p. 170). No
mangle girl makes more than $6.00 and most between $3.00 and $5.00 (p.
173). Broom-making often gives only $2.50 a week, and the highest is
$5.00 (p. 252). Many box-makers earn only 60c. or 80c. a day, and 80% of
the girls are being paid less than $6.00 a week (p. 261). Packing
soap-powder in stifling rooms pays $4.50 (p. 270). Nearly 50% of the
girls in the printing trades are below the $6.00 standard.

These, then, are the facts concerning wages. But no social fact can be
entirely isolated. It is always intimately connected with many others,
and no treatment of wages can be at all satisfactory without going to
some extent into the ramifications of this subject along other lines. A
chapter, therefore, will be devoted to the question of health and of
morals as affected by industrial conditions and low wages.


[49] Report of annual convention of the American Sociological Society,
1908, or Charities and the Commons, now the Survey, March 6, 1909.

[50] Cf. p. 36f for discussion of fair wage.

[51] Vol. XIX, p. 754.

[52] Loc. cit., p. 755.

[53] U. S. Bureau of Labor, "Men's Ready-Made Clothing," p. 113.

[54] P. XI.

[55] Loc. cit., p. 37.

[56] P. 31.

[57] U. S. Bureau of Labor, "Cotton Textile Industry," p. 305, 1910.

[58] U. S. Bureau of Labor, "Men's Ready-Made Clothing," p. 129.

[59] L. c., p. 301; cf. also 20th Annual Report Bureau of Labor
Statistics of N. Y., pp. 66-67, here quoted.

[60] U. S. Bureau of Labor, "Glass Industry," p. 405, 1911.

[61] U. S. Bureau Lab., "Wage-Earning Women in Stores and Factories," p.
46, 1911.

[62] Report of Bureau of Labor Statistics of New York for 1906, p. XXXI.

                              CHAPTER SIX


The inevitable result of low wages is poor health. Bad housing
conditions and insufficient food must follow upon the heels of scanty
pay, unless the wages are supplemented in some other way; and that means
anemia, tuberculosis, typhoid, and general physical debility. "In the
New York block" bounded by E. Houston, Mott, Prince, and Elizabeth Sts.,
"one of every nine children born dies before it attains the age of five
years. The death and disease rates are abnormal. The death rates for all
ages in the City of New York in 1905-6 was 18.35 per thousand, and for
those under five years it was 51.5; but in this block it was 24.0 for
all ages and for those under five years it was 92.2."[63] "Nothing could
be added to or taken away from these homes to add to their squalor." (P.

The conditions of many workers' homes can be learned in detail from
pages 254-259 of the Federal report just quoted. Here only a few of the
leading facts can be mentioned. Thus in Pittsburgh 51.1% of the families
investigated had as many as three persons per sleeping room.[64] Eleven
per cent. of female factory and miscellaneous employees and nine per
cent. of store girls are rated as having "bad" housing conditions and
bad food.[65] Very few girls doing "light housekeeping" get proper
breakfasts (l. c., p. 18), or, indeed, any other meals. It is not
because they can't cook, but because they have to keep food expenses to
a minimum in order to buy clothes, pay room-rent, doctors, etc.

"'You see I'm dieting,' said a frail slip of a department-store girl as
she held out her tray upon which the cafeteria cashier, in the presence
of the Bureau's agent, put a two-cent check, covering the cost of the
girl's lunch--a small dish of tapioca. She may have been dieting, but
the evidences were pathetically against the need thereof, and there were
some things telling other tales to a thoughtful observer. The girl's
shoes and waist and skirt were plainly getting weary of well-doing, and
to hold her position as sales-woman they must soon be replaced" (l. c.,
p. 17).

The tables on pages 80 and 81, to one who practises the "great
transmigratory art" (as Charles Reade calls it) of putting yourself in
another's place, tell pitiful stories of making ends meet (l. c., pp.


              |          No. of women with average weekly cost of living ($)
              |                 (food, shelter, heat, light, laundry)
     Average  |Un- |1.00|1.50|2.00|2.50|3.00|3.50|4.00|4.50|5.00|5.50|6.00|6.50|
     weekly   |der | to | to | to | to | to | to | to | to | to | to | to |and |Total
    earnings  |1.00|1.49|1.99|2.49|2.99|3.49|3.99|4.49|4.99|5.49|5.99|6.49|over|
  $1.00: $1.49| .. | .. |  1 | .. | .. | .. |  1 |  1 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |  3
   1.50:  1.99| .. | .. | .. |  1 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |  1
   2.00:  2.49| .. |  1 |  1 |  1 |  2 |  1 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |  6
   2.50:  2.99| .. |  1 | .. |  2 |  1 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |  4
   3.00:  3.49| .. | .. |  2 |  2 |  2 |  1 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |  7
   3.50:  3.99|  1 | .. |  1 |  2 |  1 | .. |  3 | .. | .. | .. |  1 | .. | .. |  9
   4.00:  4.49|  2 |  2 |  2 |  2 |  1 |  3 |  1 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | 13
   4.50:  4.99|  1 |  5 |  4 |  6 | .. |  5 |  3 | .. |  2 | .. |  1 | .. | .. | 27
   5.00:  5.49|  2 | .. |  3 |  2 |  2 |  3 |  3 |  1 |  2 | .. |  1 | .. | .. | 19
   5.50:  5.99| .. |  2 |  2 |  2 |  2 |  2 |  1 |  3 |  1 | .. |  2 | .. | .. | 17
   6.00:  6.49| .. |  3 |  2 |  5 |  3 |  3 |  2 |  1 | .. | .. | .. |  1 | .. | 20
   6.50:  6.99| .. | .. | .. |  2 |  1 | .. |  1 |  2 |  2 | .. | .. | .. |  1 |  9
   7.00:  7.49| .. |  1 |  4 |  1 |  4 |  4 |  2 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | 16
   7.50:  7.99|  1 | .. |  3 |  3 |  1 |  2 |  3 |  5 | .. | .. |  2 |  1 |  1 | 22
   8.00:  8.49| .. |  1 |  3 |  1 |  3 |  5 |  5 |  2 |  2 | .. |  1 | .. | .. | 23
   8.50:  8.99| .. | .. | .. | .. |  1 |  1 |  1 |  1 |  1 | .. | .. | .. | .. |  5
   9.00:  9.49| .. |  1 | .. | .. | .. |  2 | .. |  2 |  2 |  1 |  1 | .. |  1 | 10
   9.50:  9.99| .. | .. | .. | .. |  1 | .. |  1 |  1 |  1 | .. | .. |  1 | .. |  5
  10.00: 10.49| .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |  2 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |  2 |  4
  10.50: 10.99| .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |  1 | .. | .. | .. | .. |  1
  11.00: 11.49| .. | .. |  1 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |  1 | .. |  1 |  3
  11.50: 11.99| .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |  1 | .. | .. | .. |  1 | .. | .. | .. |  2
  12.00: 12.99| .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |  1 | .. | .. |  2 | .. |  1 |  1 | .. |  5
  13.00: 13.99| .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |  1 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |  1
  14.00: 14.99| .. | .. | .. | .. |  1 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |  1 | .. | .. |  2
  15.00 & over| .. | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |  1 | .. | .. | .. | .. | .. |  1 |  2
  Total       |  7 | 17 | 29 | 32 | 26 | 36 | 29 | 19 | 16 |  2 | 12 |  4 |  7 |236[A]

[A] 16.6% of those for whom the information necessary was secured. In
the cities investigated (New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis,
Boston, Minneapolis, and St. Paul) there were, in 1905, 400,000 women
employed in stores, mills, factories, and other similar establishments.

                |     No. of women having     ||     No. of women having
                |       wholly dependent      ||     partially dependent
                |           on them           ||           on them
     Average    |  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |     ||  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |
      Weekly    | per-| per-| per-| per-|     || per-| per-| per-| per-|
     Earnings   | son | sons| sons| sons| Tot.|| son | sons| sons| sons|Tot.
  $ 1.00: $ 1.49| ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  || ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  | ..
    1.50:   1.99| ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  || ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  | ..
    2.00:   2.49| ..  | ..  | ..  |  1  |  1  ||  1  |  3  | ..  | ..  |  4
    2.50:   2.99| ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  ||  1  | ..  |  1  | ..  |  2
    3.00:   3.49|  1  | ..  |  1  | ..  |  2  ||  2  |  1  | ..  | ..  |  3
    3.50:   3.99|  1  | ..  | ..  | ..  |  1  ||  1  |  2  | ..  |  1  |  4
    4.00:   4.49|  2  | ..  |  1  | ..  |  3  ||  2  |  3  |  3  |  1  |  9
    4.50:   4.99|  1  | ..  |  2  |  2  |  5  ||  4  |  2  |  3  |  2  | 11
    5.00:   5.49| ..  | ..  |  1  |  1  |  2  ||  7  |  1  | ..  |  2  | 10
    5.50:   5.99|  2  |  1  | ..  | ..  |  3  ||  4  |  1  | ..  | ..  |  5
    6.00:   6.49| ..  |  1  |  1  | ..  |  2  ||  5  |  3  |  1  |  1  | 10
    6.50:   6.99| ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  ||  4  |  1  |  1  | ..  |  6
    7.00:   7.49|  3  |  1  | ..  | ..  |  4  ||  1  |  1  | ..  |  1  |  3
    7.50:   7.99| ..  |  3  |  2  | ..  |  5  || 10  | ..  | ..  |  1  | 11
    8.00:   8.49|  6  | ..  |  1  | ..  |  7  ||  4  | ..  |  2  |  1  |  7
    8.50:   8.99|  2  |  1  | ..  | ..  |  3  ||  2  | ..  | ..  | ..  |  2
    9.00:   9.49| ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  ||  2  |  2  |  1  | ..  |  5
    9.50:   9.99|  1  | ..  | ..  | ..  |  1  || ..  | ..  |  1  | ..  |  1
   10.00:  10.49| ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  ||  2  | ..  | ..  | ..  |  2
   10.50:  10.99| ..  |  1  | ..  | ..  |  1  || ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  | ..
   11.00:  11.49|  1  | ..  | ..  | ..  |  1  ||  1  | ..  | ..  |  1  |  2
   11.50:  11.99|  1  | ..  | ..  | ..  |  1  || ..  | ..  |  1  | ..  |  1
   12.00:  12.99|  1  | ..  | ..  | ..  |  1  ||  1  | ..  |  1  | ..  |  2
   13.00:  13.99| ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  || ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  | ..
   14.00:  14.99|  1  | ..  | ..  | ..  |  1  || ..  | ..  | ..  | ..  | ..
   15.00:  over |  1  | ..  |  1  | ..  |  2  || ..  |  1  | ..  | ..  |  1
      Total     | 24  |  8  | 10  |  4  | 46  || 54  | 21  | 15  | 11  | 101

But bad food and bad housing are not the only enemies of the workman's
health. The nature of his daily toil and the conditions under which it
is performed are often against him. Even ventilation becomes important
when one has to spend ten, eleven, or twelve hours a day in one room,
and yet this is almost entirely neglected.

In 1908 a special officer was appointed in New York State to make tests
of the atmospheric conditions in places of business. One hundred and
thirty-six factories were examined, and in some printing establishments
as many as forty parts of carbonic-acid gas (CO_{2}) in ten thousand
volumes of air were found, though a legal limit of twelve is
recommended. One cigar factory, with windows partly open, had eighty
such parts. The following table will exhibit the results of this

  Parts of CO_{2} in|    |     |     |     |     |     |     |
   10,000 vols. air |5-12|13-20|21-25|26-30|31-40|42-60|65-70|75-80
     Factories in   |    |     |     |     |     |     |     |
      each class    | 82 | 166 |  80 |  67 |  30 |  8  |  3  |  3

Sometimes the exigencies of the trade require that there should be no
draft, as in the handling of carbon filaments for incandescent lamps,
and then the conditions of the atmosphere become acutely unhealthy. In
addition, in some of the rooms numerous bunsen burners are always
lighted and all currents of air carefully excluded to prevent their

Elsewhere, the process of manufacture often vitiates the air, as the
"blow-over" in bottle shops. "In some factories, at times the air is so
full of this floating glass that the hair is whitened by merely passing
through the room. It sticks to the perspiration on the face and arms of
the boys and men and becomes a source of considerable irritation.
Getting into the eyes it is especially troublesome" (l. c., p. 66).
Something similar occurs in etching glass by a sand-blast. Unless a
hood and exhaust are provided, a pressure of from fifty to ninety pounds
scatters fine sand and glass dust through the air and is breathed in by
the operator (l. c., p. 440). Even worse, however, is the acid etching,
as the fumes of hydrochloric acid cause severe irritation to the throat
and lungs (l. c., p. 442).

Even when there is no such irritant in the air as just mentioned,
extreme differences in temperature between the work-room and the
outside, or between various parts of the shop, may be a source of
serious danger to health. In the glass industry, many persons have to
work in temperatures ranging from ninety to one hundred and forty
degrees, and as high as fifty degrees above the outside air (l. c., p.
75). Industries where an artificial humidity is required, such as silk,
cotton and flax spinning, are likely to induce rheumatism, pleurisy,
etc. After working ten hours in a room filled with live steam to prevent
breaking of threads, to pass into a New England blizzard is apt to
produce serious results. The boys in bottle-making shops are obliged to
pass continually from a temperature of 140 degrees at the "glory-hole"
to one of 90 degrees or less in other parts (l. c., pp. 49ff.).

And even if conditions of atmosphere and ventilation are good, the mere
fact of continuing work for thirteen hours seven days a week tells
seriously upon the physical endurance of the strongest.[68] When night
work is required in addition to the day's labor, as in the glass
industry, the consequences are likely to be worse, especially where
children are concerned.[69] Night work frequently means a presence in
the factory of at least twenty hours out of the twenty-four. "During the
course of the investigation there were found two cases of recent death,
both children, which could be directly attributed to exhaustion due to
double-shift work in the furnace room" (l. c., p. 122).

In the clothing trade, "some piece and task-workers reported that they
commonly worked seventy-two and even seventy-eight hours a week during
busy periods" (l. c., p. 115). "There were instances where women said
they worked from 6 or 7 o'clock in the morning to 9, 10, or 11 o'clock
at night" (l. c., p. 241). For store girls, "thirteen and one-half hours
on Saturday is not only excessive but works considerable hardship."[70]
"One girl worked 24-1/2 hours at one stretch with but two half-hour
intermissions for meals.... Four girls working in one establishment on
the 'night force' one day for each week reported their 'longest day's'
labor as 16-3/4, 20-1/4, 22-1/2, 24-1/4 hours" (l. c., p. 205). On the
elevated railways in Chicago, at the time of the investigation, 1907-08,
women worked for 80-1/2 hours a week (l. c., p. 208).

When the business requires the maintaining of practically one position
all day, whether standing or sitting, such long hours are bound to have
a bad physical effect. This is the case, for example, in department
stores (l. c., p. 178); in the glass industry where many growing boys
are cramped before the furnace holes all day long;[71] in many processes
in the manufacture of incandescent lamps (l. c., p. 482-483); and
numerous other occupations.

But there is frequently added to mere length of hours a feverish haste
in working induced by starvation piece-rates or by the necessity of
keeping up with a machine. When a woman perforates 3100 bulbs a day and
welds tubes to them, there must be a constant nervous tension to attain
such rapidity (l. c., p. 469). The even more complex operation of
stem-making for these bulbs proceeds at a rate varying from 2600 to 3500
a day (l. c., p. 467). Three thousand stems and bulbs are assembled each
day (p. 470), while in one day, an expert will test the candle-power of
5000 lamps (p. 472). The operation of mounting Tungsten filaments in
small copper wire is very much like threading an exceedingly small
needle. If one imagines this repeated 3000 times a day, with thread that
has to be handled with the greatest care to prevent breaking, he will
have some idea of the strain on eyes and nerves (p. 478). Twenty
thousand completed lamps are tested daily at a piece rate of 6c. per
thousand lamps (pp. 486-487).

Very frequently, too, these long hours at an intense strain must be
spent at work positively dangerous on account of the process, such as
matchmaking[72] or painting lamps.[73] Chemical poisoning is frequent in
hatters' and furriers' work, and plumbism, which is very similar to
phosphorous poisoning, besets any trade in which lead is used. This is
the case, in the production of white, red, or yellow lead, industries in
which goods dyed with them undergo the process of building, winding,
weaving, etc., and such an apparently innocuous occupation as the
manufacture of earthenware and pottery. "One of the first symptoms of
plumbism is a blue gum, followed by loosening and dropping out of the
teeth. Blindness, paralysis, and death in convulsions frequently follow.
Besides plumbism there are serious indirect results from lead-poisoning
in a number of industries."[74] Readers of George Bernard Shaw will
remember that Mrs. Warren adopted her profession through fear of
contracting this disease. Her sister had fallen a victim to it and the
frightful ravages made among her friends drove her to this course. In
other industries such as wool sorting, blanket stoving and tentering,
and warp dressing, lock-jaw is an incident.

Closely allied to a question already discussed, that of ventilations, is
the insidious injury wrought by dust in the air. Some trades in which
this condition is pronounced, seem materially to shorten life, as shown
by a bulletin of the United States Bureau of Labor for May, 1909, on
"Mortality from Consumption in Certain Occupations." The proportion of
those reaching the age of 65 and over among tobacco and cigar factory
operatives was 1.8%; glove-makers, 2.3%; bakers, 2.4%; leather curriers
and tanners, 2.9%; and confectioners, 3.1%: as against 4.7%, the average
expected normal on the basis of all occupied males in the United States
(l. c., p. 623).

Eighty-nine per cent. of the clergymen who died in 1900 were over 44,
and 55% over 65 years of age; 76% of the lawyers dying in this year were
over 44, and 41% over 65; 73% and 41% of the physicians had passed these
respective ages; 80% and 37% of the bankers, officials of companies,
etc., were over 44 and 65: yet more than half of the compositors dying
in the United States for the year were under 49 years of age. About
one-half of these died of pulmonary tuberculosis. Only 18% were over
60.[75] Between 1892 and 1898, 32% of the deaths of glass bottle-blowers
were due to tuberculosis, largely induced, probably, by the strain on
the lungs, the "blow-over," and conditions of temperature.[76]

Industrial mortality insurance statistics show that 23% of the deaths of
those employed in trades exposed to organic dust are from consumption
and 14% from other respiratory diseases, as against 14.8% and 11.7%, the
expected respective averages for the United States.[77] The following
table taken from the bulletin just quoted will probably exhibit the
results more strikingly (p. 626):

               |   Per cent. of deaths due to consumption
               |                   among:
  Age at death +---------------------+----------------------
               | Occupations exposed | Males in registration
               |   to organic dust   |    area, 1900-1906
  15-24 years  |        40.1         |         27.8
  25-34 years  |        49.0         |         31.3
  35-44 years  |        35.3         |         23.6
  45-54 years  |        21.6         |         15.0
  55-64 years  |        11.0         |          8.1
  65 and over  |         4.5         |          2.7

It will be seen from this table, that deaths from consumption in these
trades exposed to organic dust were more than half again as much as
might reasonably have been expected. And it must be remembered that
statistics indicate, "that general organic dust is less serious in its
fatal effects than mineral or metallic dust, and as a result the
proportionate mortality from consumption and other respiratory diseases
in this group is more favorable than in the groups of occupations with
exposure to mineral and metallic dusts" (l. c., p. 627).

More evident dangers of occupation, because more directly traceable to
their causes, are industrial accidents. Manufacturers and employers
sometimes wantonly, sometimes through ignorance, neglect the precautions
and appliances necessary properly to safeguard their workmen. The
introduction of complicated machinery, the use of high-power explosives,
the strenuous conduct of production, without corresponding efforts to
offset the natural tendencies of these conditions and tools, has made
peace more horrible and dangerous than war.

Of all such sources of accident, mines are probably the most prolific.
"The percentage of miners killed in this country is greater than in any
other, being from two to four times as large as in any European
country."[78] "Every year of the past decade," 1890-1900, "has seen from
500 to 700 Pennsylvania miners killed and from 1200 to 1650 injured. By
comparing these figures with the total number employed, it will be found
that on the average about one man in every 400 employed in the mines is
killed yearly and about one out of every 150 injured."[79]

In 37 New England cotton mills in 1907, 1428 employees were injured.[80]
The Bethlehem Steel Works alone had a record of 927 accidents in
1909.[81] In New York State, during a year of industrial depression,
1907, there were 14,545 accidents recorded,[82] and we know that they
are more numerous in prosperous years.

Time and again we find in the succinct official reports such terse
statements as: "While working on top of boiler was overcome by gas: dead
when found," "struck by pieces thrown from bursting emery wheel, died
from injuries ten days later," "heavy piece of machinery was being moved
by crane which broke, allowing machinery to fall against tank, which in
turn fell against deceased, crushing his legs and injuring him
internally: death occurred one hour later," "caught in belt and whirled
around shafting; death occurred before machinery could be stopped,"
"struck in face by broken belt; eyeball broken: death ensued two days
later at hospital from effects of anæsthetic," "broken elevator shaft
caused elevator to fall with operator; skull fractured and ear
lacerated: death ensued later at hospital" (l. c., pt. I, pp. 109-113).

Such are the official reports. They give no idea of the suffering of the
families, the struggles of widows and orphans when the head of the
family has been struck down; they do not show the carelessness or greed
that subjects men to the danger of working with worn-out cranes, or
defective emery wheels, or weak belting; but they do show, in connection
with the other data quoted, in a cold official way, that hundreds of
thousands of men and women in this country are working for excessive
hours, amid unsanitary surroundings, and without proper protection from
the dangers of their work: judging by the standard which for the time
being has been accepted as just.

Such conditions are hard enough for grown men and women to face, they
are harder still for children. And by taking children away from school
and putting them at work, frequently beyond their capacity, they are
handicapped mentally and physically for making enough later on to
support a family. The percentage of children so injured cannot be
definitely arrived at, but they are employed in considerable numbers in
a large variety of occupations. Sweatshops, glass factories, the making
of neckties, cigars, paper and wooden boxes, picture frames, furniture,
and shoes are a few of the widely different trades that take their
quota. In the Southern cotton mills, twelve appears to be the age at
which children are ordinarily expected to begin work; but some of the
mills employ children under that age, now and then, in fact, as young as
nine, eight, and even six years.[83]

"Probably the most serious and far-reaching effect of child-labor is the
prevention of normal development, physical and mental. Besides being
deprived of the schooling they would otherwise get, children are injured
by confinement and sometimes worn out by work. In other cases the work
is demoralizing because it does not call out the best faculties of the
children, or leaves them altogether idle for a part of the year.

"It has been found that children are much more liable to accidents in
factories than adults. Thus a recent report of the Minnesota Bureau of
Labor shows that boys under sixteen have twice as great probability of
accident as adults, while girls under sixteen have thirty-three [_sic_]
times as great a probability of being hurt as women over sixteen.... It
has also been found that overstrain of the muscular or nervous system is
much more serious in children than in adults, and that children are also
more susceptible to the poisons and injurious dusts arising in certain
processes than grown persons."[84]


[63] U. S. Bureau of Labor, "Men's Ready-Made Clothing," p. 297.

[64] U. S. Bureau of Labor, "Glass Industry," p. 607.

[65] U. S. Bureau of Labor, "Wage-Earning Women in Stores and
Factories," p. 134.

[66] Cf. Report of Commissioner of Labor of New York for 1908 Vol. I,
pp. 76-93.

[67] U. S. Bureau of Labor, "Glass Industry," p. 500.

[68] U. S. Commissioner of Labor, "Strike at Bethlehem Steel Works," p.
10, 1910.

[69] U. S. Bur. Lab., "Glass Industry," p. 118.

[70] U. S. Bur. Lab., "Women Wage-Earners in Stores and Factories," p.

[71] U. S. Bur. Lab., "Glass Industry," p. 48.

[72] U. S. Bur. Lab., Bulletin No. 68, Jan., 1910: "Phosphorus Poisoning
in the Match Industry."

[73] U. S. Bur. Lab., "Glass Industry," pp. 485-486.

[74] U. S. Indus. Comm., Vol. XIX, p. 901f.

[75] Rep. N. Y. State Bur. Lab., 1906, pp. CVII-CXXXV.

[76] U. S. Bur. Lab., "Glass Industry," p. 240.

[77] Bull. U. S. Bur. Lab., May, 1909, p. 626.

[78] "Monthly Catalogue U. S. Public Documents," Nov., 1909, p. 184.

[79] U. S. Indus. Com., Vol. XIX, p. 906.

[80] U. S. Bur. Lab., "Cotton Textile Industry," p. 383.

[81] U. S. Commissioner of Labor, "Report on Strike at Bethlehem Steel
Works," p. 121.

[82] Report of Commissioner of Labor of N. Y., 1908, pt. I, p. 62.

[83] L. c., pp. 45, 65, 83, 85, 86: U. S. Bur. Lab., "Cotton Textile

[84] U. S. Industrial Commission, Vol. XIX, p. 917f; cf. also U. S. Bur.
Lab., "Cotton Textile Industry," p. 385f.

                             CHAPTER SEVEN


Industrial conditions, as at present constituted, not only injure the
health of the body; they also endanger the soul. The Chicago Vice
Commission has thus summarized these influences: "Among the economic
conditions contributory to the social evil are low wages, unsanitary
conditions, demoralizing relationships in stores, shops, domestic
service, restaurants and hotels: the street vending of children in
selling papers and gums, collecting coupons and refuse; the messenger
service of boys, especially in the vicinity of disorderly houses,
vicious saloons, dance halls and other demoralizing resorts; employment
agencies which send servants to immoral places; the rest rooms or
waiting places where applicants for work resort; too long hours and the
high pressure of work; the overcrowding of houses upon lots, and of
persons in single rooms" (Report, 1911: p. 230).

When inability to secure decent lodging forces men and women to occupy
the same sleeping rooms, there must be an inevitable lowering of moral
standards. One case is recorded in "Packingtown," where eight
persons--men and women--were sleeping in a room approximately ten by
fifteen feet.[85] When a woman pays less than $1.50 a week for board and
lodging, as many are forced to do (see page 71f) she can have no
privacy. "If there are men lodgers in the house, the entrance to their
room is sometimes through the girl's room, or vice versa. In one house
visited, the women received the agent about nine P.M. in the room of a
man lodger who had already gone to bed. This seemed to be the only
available sitting room and disconcerted no one save the agent" (l. c.,
p. 62).

The girl who lives away from home in a cheap boarding house is no myth.
In Pittsburgh, "in the garment trades she numbers 38% of the total
force; in the wholesale millinery trade 10%; in the mercantile houses
20%. On the lowest estimate, there are 2300 of her kind in

It is not only low wages, as leading to a lack of decent housing, that
has a bad moral effect. All are born with a natural craving for
happiness, and long hours of work under a nervous strain intensify this
desire. Economic conditions have kept most of those in the grip of such
a situation from developing the higher side of their nature until they
can find pleasure and recreation in a symphony concert or an epic poem.
The jaded nerves need a stronger stimulus to cause pleasure. "The desire
for ecstasy," says Algar Thorold, a keen psychological observer, "is at
the very root and heart of our nature. This craving, when bound down by
the animal instincts, meets us on every side in those hateful
contortions of the social organism called the dram-shop and the

As a consequence of this insatiable longing for pleasure and the
inability to pay for it, thousands of young women in our big cities
patronize public dance halls and other questionable places of amusement.
The code of their social set has come to sanction accepting tickets for
such places, refreshments, etc., from men met haphazard at these

Dance halls are such a serious menace to public morals that legislation
has become necessary. Elizabeth, Paterson, Newark and Hoboken, New
Jersey, Boston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Louisville,
Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco, Kansas City, and Cleveland are all
agitating the question of their regulation (Survey, June 3, 1911, p.
345). A. B. Williams, general secretary of the Humane Society of this
last city, is quoted as declaring that "one out of every ten children in
Cleveland is born out of wedlock. In nine out of every ten cases that we
handle, the mothers tell us, 'I met him at a public dance'" (l. c., p.

In Chicago alone there are about 306 licensed dance halls and nearly 100
unlicensed. Among these, "one condition is general: most of the dance
halls exist for the sale of liquor, not for the purpose of dancing,
which is only of secondary importance. A saloon opened into each of 190
halls, and liquor was sold in 240 out of 328. In the others--except in
rare instances--return checks were given to facilitate the use of
neighboring saloons. At the halls where liquor was sold practically all
the boys showed signs of intoxication by one o'clock" (l. c., p. 385:
Louise de Koven Bowen).

And just as women who have toiled hard all day long, crave some strong
excitement such as can only be afforded by the dance hall or a similar
place, so men in the same circumstances naturally turn to the saloon. It
is in the cheerfully lighted, comfortably heated gin-shop, in the
temporary stimulus of liquor, that insufficient food, unhealthful
surroundings at home and at work, a cold, uninviting house are
forgotten. It is often said that workmen would have enough to live on
comfortably if they did not squander their wages in drink, and that to
raise their pay would only be to increase the profits of saloon-keepers.
In some cases this may be true. But in the vast majority, it is probable
that to increase their power of getting the comforts at home that they
find in the saloon would be to lessen the drink evil, rather than
increase it. The marvel is not that laborers who come home day after day
from hard, long toil to poor food, cold rooms, a generally comfortless
home should seek out the gin-palace, but that they drink as little as
they do.

These are some of the indirect, though important, moral results of
economic conditions. Oftentimes the direct influences of a person's
occupation also make for evil. The messenger boy, for instance, on the
streets at all hours and in all sections, can hardly fail to see and
hear much that no parent would want a child of fourteen, sixteen, or
eighteen to know. Indeed, a great part of his employment at night comes
from those indulging in debauchery, and it is his most profitable source
of tips.[89]

From the nature of the case, women are probably more exposed in their
work than men. Such occupations as will occur to every one, are manicure
parlors where girls are peculiarly exposed to danger and insults. But
most important, because employing the largest numbers, are the
department stores. It has been charged over and over again, that many
employers knowingly pay wages that are insufficient to support a girl in
the expectation that she will be subsidized by some "gentleman friend."

How far this is true is hard to say; and it is just as difficult to
determine how many department-store employees are really immoral. The
report of the United States Bureau of Labor on "Wage-Earning Women and
Children" combats the idea that immorality among them is widespread.
Nevertheless, there is a strong opinion that store girls are not all
they should be, and many careful observers have enumerated quite a
startling array of individual instances where a girl's fall can be
largely traced to her employment as a sales-woman.

An investigator for the Chicago Vice Commission, for instance, gives in
the report of that body quite a number of cases which are said to be
typical. "Violet works in a department store, salary $5.00 per week. Was
seduced and left home. Baby died and she solicits on the side to support
herself.... Mag 18 years old. Works in department store. Salary $5.50
per week. Tells parents she receives more. Helps support parents and
'solicits' at dances for spending money. Father is sickly.... Marcella
(X913), alias Tantine (X904). Came to (X905) about three years ago, and
started to work in the (X916) department store. One of the managers
insisted on taking her out, which she finally had to do 'to hold her
job,' as she asserts" (pp. 187, 195).

Miss Elizabeth Butler, investigating for the Pittsburgh _Survey_,
reports the same thing in that city. "Vera ----" she says, "is twenty
years old. Four years ago she was employed as a salesgirl at $3.50 a
week. After a year she left for another store where she was employed as
a cashier at a salary of $10.00 a week, for making concessions to her
employer. After two years she left the store for a house of
prostitution.... Jennie ---- came to Pittsburgh from Akron, Ohio. She
had no friends in the city and was obliged to be self-supporting. She
obtained a position at $6.00 a week as a sales-woman. After five months
in the store she consented to be kept in an apartment in the East End.
She still keeps her position in the store.... A girl whose father was
killed by an electric crane was the only one of the family old enough to
work. Forced by financial needs to accept a wage fixed by custom at a
point below her own cost of subsistence, much more below the cost of
helping to maintain a family of dependents, she drifted into occasional

These are only particular instances, it is true, and one must not
generalize too widely. But there is undoubtedly considerable foundation
for the charge so often made and so firmly fixed in the public mind. And
if many of the girls exposed to such dangers have hitherto remained
pure, we must thank the sterling characters inherited from those raised
under different conditions, not conclude that the system needs no

All these and certain less tangible economic influences making for evil
have been well summarized by the Minneapolis Vice Commission. It points
out that the advent of great numbers of young girls into industry has
produced conditions that lead to the blasting of thousands of lives
yearly. "The chance for the making of promiscuous male acquaintances,
the close association of the sexes in employment, the necessary contact
with the general public, the new and distorted view of life which such
an environment compels, taken with the low wage scale prevailing in so
many callings and affecting so many individuals, combine to create a
situation that must inevitably weaken the moral stamina and lead to the
undoing of many. The fault is plainly not so much in the individual; it
is rather the results of the industrial system. The remedy lies in large
part in the reforming of the system" (Report, 1911, p. 126).

Some of the remedies suggested by this commission are higher wages,
better sanitary conditions, and "_the education of public opinion in
this field to the point where it will demand a living wage and proper
working conditions and social conditions for those who serve them in

Nor is this commission alone in attributing a great moral influence to
economic conditions and in looking to the public for a large part of the
remedy. In fact, it was simply following in the steps of the New York
and Chicago Vice Commissions.[92] And all merely voiced a widespread
conviction among social workers and the public generally.

"Are flesh and blood so cheap," asks the Chicago Commission, "mental
qualifications so common, and honesty of so little value, that the
manager of one of our big department stores feels justified in paying a
high school girl, who has served nearly one year as an inspector of
sales, the beggarly wage of $4.00 per week? What is the natural result
of such an industrial condition? Dishonesty and immorality, not from
choice, but necessity--in order to _live_. We can forgive the human
frailty that yields to temptation under such conditions--but we cannot
forgive the soulless corporation, which arrests and prosecutes this
girl--a first offender--when she takes some little articles for personal
adornment.... Prostitution demands _youth_ for its perpetration. On the
public rests the mighty responsibility of seeing to it that the demand
is not supplied through the breaking down of the early education of the
young girl or her exploitation in the business world" (Report, pp.

This insistence upon the _public_ as being really responsible for these
economic and moral conditions is significant. For the Consumers are the
public. Each individual of which the public is composed is, in one
aspect, a Consumer, and it is important to notice how widespread is an
insistence upon his responsibility in the matter.

From this discussion it may be reasonably concluded: (1) that many
persons in many industries are receiving less than a living wage, in the
present acceptation of that term; (2) that many persons are being
injured in health and limb by long hours, unsanitary workshops, and
improperly guarded machinery; (3) that the conditions of work often tend
to produce vice.

The treatment has been largely statistical. No matter how thorough,
therefore, it is subject to the limitations of this method. Sissy Jupe
long ago called statistics "stutterings," and newer editions of
Gradgrind have not perfected their articulation. Statistics are
necessarily quantitative. They do well enough for computing rainfall, or
something of the sort, but human life with its pleasures and pains, its
joys and tragedies, refuses to be labeled and ticketed. It is intangible
to such gross systems of classification.

    "All the world's coarse thumb
    And finger fail to plumb"

the depths of happiness and suffering in the least of human creatures.


[85] U. S. Bur. Lab., "Women Wage-Earners in Stores and Factories," p.

[86] E. B. Butler, "Women and the Trades," pp. 320-1.

[87] Preface to "Dialogue of St Catherine of Siena," p. 13: London,
Kegan Paul, 1896.

[88] U. S. Bur. Labor, "Women Wage-Earners in Stores and Factories," p.

[89] Cf. Report of Chicago Vice Commission, p. 242f, and unpublished
reports of the National Child Labor Committee, Washington, D. C.

[90] "Women and the Trades," pp. 305-306, 348.

[91] Italics added. Cf. pp. 114, 115, 126.

[92] Survey, Apr. 15, 1911, p. 99; May 6, 1911, p. 215.

                             CHAPTER EIGHT


The question now arises, even supposing the conditions are bad and that
a duty of improving them rests upon the Consuming Class; what is the
individual Consumer bound to do? Making all due allowances for the fact
that we have assumed what is a just or unjust wage, and without any
intention of forcing this standard upon the conscience of individuals,
there will be times when a particular Consumer is convinced, e.g. that
those employed at stores he patronizes are not being paid anything like
what they have a right to receive. What should he do? Does any
obligation devolve upon him?

In answering this question, the general principle must be kept in mind,
that a Consumer is not bound to act under a disproportionately grave
inconvenience. He is not bound to sacrifice considerable personal good
to do a very little good to the laborers making the articles he buys;
nor is he obliged to put himself to any inconvenience if no good
whatever is going to follow.

But if he can conveniently buy goods made under just conditions rather
than under bad, and the price is no higher, then he is bound to do so.
And if he is well off and can easily afford to pay a little more for the
justly made goods, he ought to buy them, provided he can be reasonably
sure that the increase in price will go to maintain good working
conditions and not simply to swell the manufacturer's profits.

As Father Cuthbert, a Capuchin, says, not the employers only are
responsible for the oppression of workingmen, "but all who patronize
such labor contribute to the sin. The insatiable yearning to buy cheap
without any thought as to how cheapness is obtained, this is the
incentive which tempts men to buy cheap labor and to underpay workmen.
Were people in general not willing accomplices, there would be no
sweating system, no unfair competition. The sin falls not on the few
[manufacturers] but on the many [patrons] who too readily condone the
sin of the few for the sake of the resultant advantage to themselves.
They pay half a penny less for a pound of sugar or a shilling or two
less on a ton of coal: what does the public care that the shop
assistant or the miner is unable to get a human wage?"[93]

The purely individual action of Consumers, however, can have but little
effect for good. For only comparatively few have sufficiently developed
social consciences to realize the desirability of such action; and even
if more had, their means of discovering which goods are justly made are
so limited as seriously to hamper their activity.

The remedy for this difficulty would seem to be organization among
Consumers. There can be little doubt that if they united in sufficient
numbers in patronizing only those shops that maintained good working
conditions their action would exert considerable pressure. The labor
unions have shown that the boycott is a powerful weapon. How efficient
it can be, may be guessed from the sums spent by employers in opposing
it. Astute business men do not tilt at windmills, and if they have
fought the legality of the boycott in every tribunal in the land,
including the Supreme Court, it was only because they realized the
compelling power it placed in labor's hands.

But some greater animus than pure philanthropy seems necessary to make
Consumers band together in this way on a large enough scale. They need
the class spirit, the enthusiasm of industrial warfare afforded by the
trade unions. For though an organization of Consumers has been in
existence now for more than twenty years, it is forced sorrowfully to
admit that the good accomplished simply through the economic pressure of
its members has been but slight.

But if it had been possible so to unite Consumers in a powerful society
for the collection of information and the distribution of patronage, it
has been asked: Would it not have become wofully corrupt? Can we safely
trust an irresponsible club with such power? And, therefore, is it wise
for conscientious individuals now to join this league? For either it
will remain practically powerless, or else it will become so strong as
to be a menace.

The answer must be that if the Consumers' League ever does become strong
enough to exercise a great influence in the industrial world, it will
probably abuse and sell its power. Rich unfair firms may be able to
bribe those in control to give them a recommendation they do not
deserve, and various other kinds of corruption will most likely creep
in. But such an argument proves too much. If we are to give no authority
where it will not be misused, we shall come to anarchy at once. For have
not political parties, and states and employers and trade unions--all,
at one time or another, abused power. Seldom have men enjoyed power for
long without using it for selfish ends.

But we must not, therefore, destroy all authority and power. Rather we
should embrace the dictum of de Maistre, that power must be balanced
against power, one organization set to watch another. And if it should
happen that a league of Consumers became too strong and abused its
strength, it would be time enough then to set about checking it by
building up power somewhere else.

So far, however, there has been no danger of such a contingency. The
Consumers' League has been active, earnest, and honest--and sufficient
for the day is the evil thereof. The League has embraced all work that
came to hand whether strictly within the economic field first marked out
for it, or extending to other preserves. Its activity in the Legislative
domain has not been inconsiderable, and it is probable that the
influence of Consumers will be most marked here in the future.

There is much talk now of minimum wage legislation to guarantee laborers
a certain standard. If we look upon compulsory arbitration as
practically the same thing, we can say that it has already been
extensively tried. Canada, England, Australia, and New Zealand have
shown that it is possible in some fields but the controversy always
aroused by a new project has not yet subsided sufficiently to enable one
to speak definitely concerning its success. The elaborate system of
state insurance against sickness, accident, old age, and unemployment,
now in operation in England and Germany is another governmental attempt
to secure a certain standard of living for all. And the public-schools,
in which rich and poor are put on a plane of equality regarding
elementary education, are so familiar that we are apt to lose sight of
the fact that they are really only one link in this chain of state
intervention to provide the means for everybody enjoying certain
advantages that have come to be looked upon as necessities in our

In our own country during 1911, there was much discussion, some action,
and every prospect for still further activity along these lines. A
conspicuous feature was the movement to introduce a more equitable
system of compensation or insurance for industrial accidents.[94] There
was a non-compulsory minimum wage law passed recently in Massachusetts,
and several States prescribed the rate of pay for public work done by
contract. An amendment to the Charter of San Francisco fixes the minimum
of employees on street railways at $3.00 per day, with one and one-half
pay for overtime. Vermont, Wisconsin and South Dakota have given wages a
preference over other debts (l. c., pp. 876, 878, 881).

It would seem then that the legislative field is the one in which most
success is to be expected. And since the Consumers are the beneficiaries
of labor's exertion, they are especially bound to effort in this
direction. Those who have influence and leisure are more bound than
those who have but little power or opportunity, but all are obliged to
do something.

The results of our examination of this question may be summed up in the
following conclusion:

I. Assuming that employers are violating the rights of their laborers
then there is a duty incumbent upon the _Consuming Class_ to do what
they can to secure these rights.

II. Employers are violating the rights of their employees to such an
extent as to create a serious social problem.

III. The individual Consumer is bound to do what he can without serious
inconvenience to remedy these conditions. He can act individually, by
joining an organization, and through legislation.

Should it be asked which is the most effective way, the answer would
certainly incline towards legislation. If we survey the industrial
history of the last quarter century, we can see gain after gain by this
method;[95] while the Consumers' League, in its strict capacity of an
organization of _purchasers_ has done but little. What it has
accomplished has been largely through the advocacy of legislation,
rather than by merely economic pressure. And so, while Consumers could
doubtless effect tremendous changes if they wished, it seems impossible
to get them to co-operate in sufficient numbers.

Nevertheless, the Consumers' League is founded on a great and noble
principle, and for the moment I want to put aside the judicial attitude
and enthusiastically chronicle what it has done, and what could be done
along the same lines. The Consumers' League is unique in the field of
philanthropy as affording an opportunity to everyone no matter how big
or how little. For by its original principle of buying only goods made
under fair conditions, it gives a chance to the unimportant individual
to share in a great philanthropic movement, somewhat as a private does
in an imperial army; and by its activity in the legislative field, it
opens up an opportunity for those who have the time, and talent, and
position necessary for effectiveness there.

And whether or not we look upon the dictates of charity and justice as
clearly indicating a duty, whether or not one's "moral resonance"
responds to what has been said, surely we cannot deny that here is a
splendid opportunity. Here is a practical way for each and everyone to
play the Good Samaritan. Not all of us can meet men along a road who
have been set upon by thieves, bundle them into an automobile, and carry
them to a hospital. We cannot all give thousands in charity. We cannot
all engage in publicly urging reforms by legislation, nor give
generously of time in philanthropic ministration to the poor. But we can
see to it in the way already outlined that some at least of our
expenditures go to ward off misery rather than foster it. We can see to
it that we prevent misery from spreading at least in one little sphere.

[96]This is no mere theory. Reforms have actually been accomplished in
some places by the Consumers' League. Realizing that to be effective
they must be organized, it is the object of members of this League to
act as a sort of inverted megaphone gathering up the weak whisperings of
each individual purchaser and blending them with thousands of others
until they all become one mighty concerted shout that must be heard.

Laborers have known the strength of combination in fighting industrial
conditions for more than a generation; the aggregations of capital have
been growing larger and larger; why should not the most powerful of all
the elements of industrial society, the Consumer himself, learn by their

Organized in 1891 in New York City, the Consumers' League now has almost
a hundred branches in eighteen of the United States, in France,
Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium. To Mrs. Josephine Shaw Lowell is due
the credit of its inception. An investigation during 1889-90 into the
conditions of work among sales-women and cash-children, which she
directed for the Working Women's Society, forced upon her the futility
of starting reform from the producing end. The competitive system of
industry ties the hands of the employer, while it seems impossible
successfully to organize a union among women. There was but one element
of the economic world left to work with--the Consumer.

Therefore, in May, 1890, a public meeting was called in Chickering Hall,
New York, to discuss the organization of this all-powerful factor of
industry. It was decided to found the Consumers' League upon the
following platform:

"I. That the interest of the community demands that all workers should
receive, not the lowest, but fair living wages.

"II. That the responsibility for some of the worst evils from which
wage-earners suffer, rests with the Consumers, who persist in buying in
the cheapest markets, regardless of how cheapness is brought about.

"III. That it is therefore, the duty of Consumers to find out under what
conditions the articles they purchased are produced, and to insist that
these conditions shall be, at least, decent and consistent with a
respectable existence on the part of the workers.

"IV. That this duty is especially incumbent upon Consumers in relation
to the product of women's work since there is no limit beyond which the
wages of women may be pressed down, unless artificially maintained at a
living rate by combinations, either of the workers themselves or of the

The first step taken to carry out these objects was to prepare a "white
list" of stores coming up to a certain standard. Since it is illegal to
boycott, or to urge persons not to deal with stores placed on a "Black
List," the Consumers' League accomplishes the same results by
persuading persons to buy from firms on a white list. Once published,
merchants feel the effects of such a list, and, to get the patronage of
the League, volunteer all the good points about themselves, not to
mention the bad ones about their competitors. The list itself thus
becomes an invaluable means of getting information not otherwise

Necessarily this list had to be somewhat elastic and considerably below
the ideal. The people at the head of the Consumers' League were
practical persons of wide experience and they went on the principle that
half a loaf is better than none at all--that every little bit helps.
After consultations with the employers and the Working Women's Society,
a standard was adopted from which no retreat has been made. Whatever
changes have been made, have been on the side of greater strictness.
To-day it stands as follows:


A Fair House is one in which equal pay is given for work of equal value,
irrespective of sex, and in which no sales-woman who is eighteen years
or over--and who has had one year's experience as sales-woman receives
less than six dollars a week.

In which wages are paid by the week.

In which the minimum wages for cash-children are three dollars and a
half per week, with the same conditions regarding weekly payments.


A Fair House is one in which the number of working hours constituting a
normal working day does not exceed nine. At least three-quarters of an
hour is given for luncheon. A general half-holiday is given on one day
of each week during at least two summer months.

A Vacation of not less than one week is given with pay during the summer

All overtime is compensated for.

Wages are paid, and the premises closed for the seven principal legal
holidays, viz., Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year's Day,
Washington's Birthday, the Fourth of July, Decoration Day, and Labor

                          PHYSICAL CONDITIONS

A Fair House is one in which work, lunch and retiring rooms are apart
from each other, and conform in all respects to the present Sanitary

In which the present law regarding the providing of seats for
sales-women is observed, and the use of seats permitted.

                            OTHER CONDITIONS

A Fair House is one in which humane and considerate behavior towards the
employees is the rule.

In which fidelity and length of service meet with the consideration
which is their due.

In which no children under fourteen years of age are employed.

In which no child under the age of sixteen years works for more than
nine hours a day.

In which no child works, unless an employment certificate issued by the
Board of Health has been first filed with the employer, and the name,
etc., of the child has been entered on a register kept by the employer.

In which the ordinances of the city and the laws of the State are obeyed
in all particulars.

When it is remembered that in 1891 only eight stores in New York were
eligible for the standard (then less strict), while to-day there are
more than fifty; that then overtime was never paid for, and fines often
reduced the pay to almost half, while to-day fines go to a benefit fund,
and overtime is paid for, or a corresponding time off is given; that
then the child-labor law was openly violated, and many grown women
received less than four dollars-and-a-half, sometimes less than two
dollars, a week, while the standard now is six; that the chair law,
providing one seat for every three girls, was disregarded, or the girls
never allowed to use them, while to-day inspectors of the State Labor
Bureau strictly enforce its regulations; that the year after the
influence of the Consumers' League passed the Mercantile Employers' Bill
providing for the essentials of the above standard, there were twelve
hundred infractions reported, and nine hundred under-age children
released from drudgery as shipping clerks, etc.: when this advance
towards a decent standard of living, and the considerable part of the
Consumers' League in bringing it about, is kept in mind, the power of
the purchaser is seen to be no day-dream of an idealist, no mere pretty
theory of an arm chair economist.

As one reform after another was accomplished, the League turned itself
to new labors. To-day it is agitating strongly against the cruelties of
such seasons as Christmas, that should mean peace and joy to all. "Glad
tidings of great joy" sounds like a hollow mockery to the sales-women
and children who work from eight in the morning until midnight.
Therefore the League sends out thousands of post-cards, and advertises
in newspapers, magazines, and street-cars, urging persons to shop early
out of consideration for the employees of stores. The first large
success from this movement came in 1910 when the leading department
stores of Philadelphia, employing 35,000 persons, decided to close at
six o'clock during the entire Christmas season. Late on the evening of
December 1, the head of one of the largest retail firms in the city
called up the Consumers' League to say that he had good news. "I thought
that you should certainly be the first to hear that we are going to
close early," he said. "I congratulate you and the women you represent
on what you have enabled us to do."[98]

All this activity, however, is concerned with the retailer; in the
meantime manufacture was not neglected. The League early saw the evils
prevailing in many factories, and therefore decided to carry the
white-list idea under a slightly different form into this field. After a
thorough investigation by its own representatives and consultation with
the State factory inspectors, the League, where the situation is
satisfactory, allows the use of its label guaranteeing that the goods
are made under clean and healthful surroundings. The conditions under
which the label is issued are:

1. The State factory law is obeyed.

2. No children under the age of sixteen are employed.

3. Work at night is not required, and the working day does not exceed
ten hours.

4. No goods are given out to be made away from the factory.

Similar to the Consumers' League label are the labels of various trade
unions. These latter, indeed, were in the field many years before the
Consumers' League was even organized. They are based upon exactly the
same principle. When a factory maintains the conditions demanded by the
union, it is allowed to use the label on its goods. Anyone, therefore,
who buys union-made goods at a store where the employees are protected
by the retail-clerks union can be sure that those engaged in both the
production and distribution of these articles have obtained their just
rights so far as this is possible.

By having firms on the white list handle labeled goods and, recently, by
establishing a store of its own in New York, a market is created for
them among the members of the League. The practicalness underlying the
whole management of the League is very clearly shown here both in the
dove-tailing of its activities in manufacture and distribution and in
the appeal made to the self-interest of purchasers to buy white goods,
wrappers, etc., made in clean factories rather than germ-carrying
sweatshops goods. It has been the aim of the League all along to make it
to the Consumer's personal advantage to buy labeled goods at white-list
stores. The idea is to give him a better article and better service for
the same money, the increased cost to the manufacturer and retailer to
come out of the increased sales.

In 1898 the various local Leagues that had sprung up in different
sections were united into one national organization and the activities
became even more important. The sweatshop, child-labor, excessive hours
for women, were attacked with considerable effect. In many States the
public conscience was sufficiently aroused by reform agencies with which
the League zealously co-operated to pass stringent laws, and the
League's representatives, either as private individuals or as honorary
inspectors of the State tried to see that they were carried out. If New
York to-day has the strictest child-labor law in the United States, a
good share of the honor is due to the untiring labors of an enlightened
Consumers' League.

Here one concrete instance of these activities must suffice. England had
as early as 1844 enacted laws protecting women, but, owing to the
Constitution of the United States various State Supreme Courts had held
that any restriction of the right of free contract of adult women was
unconstitutional. Therefore when the State of Oregon proceeded against a
laundryman for violation of a State Law by working women longer than
allowed by that Law, the laundryman promptly appealed from the State
Court to the United States Supreme Court. The local Consumers' League
thereupon notified the National League, with headquarters in New York
City, that information concerning the effect of work upon women was
necessary to win the case before the highest tribunal of the United
States. Expert counsel was obtained, and Miss Josephine Goldmark, of the
League, was detailed to collect the information. She employed ten
readers, some of them medical students, and special privileges were
granted her at Columbia University Library, the Astor Library of New
York City, and the Library of Congress in Washington. The result was a
sweeping verdict sustaining the State.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are two great classes of the poor--those who for some reason or
other do not work, and those who, while working, do not receive enough
to support themselves and their families. To the former the Church has
been a staunch friend. It is one of her glories that her enemies accuse
her of fostering pauperism by too lavish charity. Her hospitals and
orphanages, her homes for the fallen and aged, her refuges for the sick
of soul and body are dotted over the whole land, and are administered
with a devotion and self-sacrificing heroism compelling the admiration
of all. As John Boyle O'Reilly said, hers is not

    "Organized charity scrimped and iced
    In the name of a cautious, statistical Christ."

But what are we doing for that other great class of poor, those who work
but do not receive a just compensation? What are we doing in the way of
preventive philanthropy, to keep these men from becoming utterly
destitute? It is for the sublime struggle of the underpaid workman that
our sympathies need now to be aroused. No Crusader ever fought for the
Sepulcher with more heroism than many a poverty-stricken laborer to
support himself and family. Day after day he takes up the hopeless task,
while nearer and nearer yawns the slough of pauperism where four million
human beings who were once self-respecting workmen like himself, now
crawl in lethargic content.[99] No waving pennons and blare of trumpets,
but a factory whistle at 6 A.M. and a chimney puffing black smoke summon
him to battle with powers stronger than Saladin in his might. What
Robert Southwell wrote of himself during imprisonment might to-day be
applied to millions of wage-slaves:

    "I live, but such a life as ever dies,
      I die, but such a death as never ends;
    My death to end my dying life denies,
      And life my living death no whit amends."

Yet notwithstanding the workman's almost superhuman efforts to avoid
pauperism, once he reaches that abyss he loses all desire to rise from
it. You cannot drive him back into that industrial war which is daily
crushing better and stronger natures.

Such being the situation, is it not an inspiration to the Consumer who
longs to do something for humanity to feel that he is contributing his
mite to keep some workmen from becoming paupers? There are persons, I
know, to whom their utter helplessness in the face of all the social
evils oppressing us to-day, has been the keenest suffering. To them this
doctrine of the responsibility of Consumers and the plans of fulfilling
it have come as a gospel of good news. They have felt that they could
now find rest from their tortures of conscience: they have felt that
they could now have a purpose in life worth living for.

And what if in our sober moments we must admit, that the good we
individually accomplish as regards the workman be small? What if we are
tempted to look upon it as useless? Let us take courage from the fact
that we are members of an organization, that everything that the group
accomplishes is in some way attributable to us. One hundred men
associated together can accomplish much more than those same men
working separately for the same ends. This fact is evident in the case
of a religious community. If the members of these communities were
scattered as individuals over the earth, how paltry would be the results
of all their self-sacrifice and devotion compared with what it is
to-day. And so each individual Consumer, banded with others in an
organization, can feel that all the work of the whole body is to some
extent his. His powers of doing good are multiplied, and the mere fact
of his association with others multiplies their capacities too.

But even if this were not so, the mere fact of realizing this principle
and co-operating with other noble-minded persons in its fulfillment will
be an immense gain to ourselves and will finally result in unexpected
good to society. Simply to know that we are accomplishing some little
mite in the field of preventive philanthropy will be an inspiration in
our lives.

To ask ourselves, not whether a hat be exactly the latest style, not
whether it be absolutely the cheapest we can get, but how it was made,
what effect is our buying it going to have upon the workers and society
in general, will beget an invaluable spirit of self-effacement. A
social conscience will be generated and grow until it becomes a dominant
note in our lives. And from us this gospel of charity and justice, this
good news to men of good will, will spread until it becomes a mighty
force for social amelioration.

We have passed through ages of autocratic tyranny; the individualistic
democracy of the last century is waning; there is approaching an era of
social effort, social morality, a recognition of social interdependence.
"The quick and sensitive ear," to quote Miss Scudder, "hears the beat of
a new music, to which men begin to rally.[100] It is a concerted
harmony, no mere solitary bugle call; and those who march to it are more
or less consciously swayed by a new rhythm. For it is notable that the
rhythms of life are coming more and more to connote harmony rather than
melody, or rather to weave many melodic phrasings into one complex
whole. Association--or to use the fairer word, fellowship--becomes a
term of increasing modern cogency."

What matter, that to any but the superficial observer, the situation
looks dark. It may be that the more we study it, the blacker it grows.
As we look back upon the history of man's strivings for some better
social organization, the conflict may seem hopeless. We may be tempted
to reflect with William Morris, "How men fight and lose the battle, and
the thing they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when
it comes it turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to
fight for what they meant under another name."

But it is nobler to say with Mrs. Browning:

      "We will trust God. The blank interstices
    Men take for ruins, He will build into
      With pillared marbles rare, or knit across
    With generous arches, till the fane's complete.
      This world has no perdition if some loss."


[93] Father Cuthbert, O.S.F.C., "Catholic Ideals in Social Life," p.
211: N. Y., 1904.

[94] Bulletin of U. S. Bur. of Lab., Jan. 1, 1911, p. 869.

[95] Cf. Mrs. Florence Kelly, "Some Ethical Gains through Legislation,"
N. Y., Macmillan, 1905; Bulletins of U. S. Bur. Lab. giving resumé of
labor legislation.

[96] The next few pages appeared substantially as here given in The
Month, March, 1911, under the title "The Consumer's Opportunity." The
author thanks the editor of this magazine for kind permission to
reproduce this matter.

[97] "Historical Sketch of the Pioneer Consumers' League," p. ii,
Consumers' League of New York City, 1908. For further information
address Mr. V. P. Kellogg, 105 E. 22nd St, New York City.

[98] Cf. _The Survey_, Dec. 17, 1910.

[99] Cf. Hunter, "Poverty," New York, 1906.

[100] Hibbert Journal, Apr., 1909.


   1 Constans et perpetua voluntas jus suum unicuique tribuendi;
     voluntaria laesio et violatio juris alieni: De Lugo, De just. et
     jure, Disp. VIII, Sec. I, n. 1.

   2 Debitum rationale ex necessaria connectione mediorum cum fine
     necessario resultans: Theologia moralis fundamentalis, ed. 2a,
     Bruges, 1890, p. 188.

   3 "Quoties aequalitas non servatur ut venditor ultra supremum
     pretium, vel emptor emat infra infimum ... injustitia commititur."
     L. c., Tr. VII, n. 380.

   4 In hac re cooperator est, qui simul cum alio est causa damni,
     sive immediata sive positiva sive negativa. Non enim in omnibus
     eadem est ratio cooperationis, sed hoc est omnibus commune, quod
     cum alio concurrant ad damnum seu injuriam damnosam.
     Ballerini L. c., Tr. VII, n. 128: cf. De Lugo, L. c. XVII, II, 37.

   5 Praeferendum est enim commune bonum privato. Pt. I, Tr. III, Tom.
     IX, Sec. IV, p. 1171.

   6 Cum enim unus homo sit pars multitudinis, quilibet homo hoc ipsum
     quod est, et quod habet, est sicut et quaelibet pars id quod est,
     est totius; unde et natura aliquod detrimentum infert parti, ut
     salvet totum: 2a 2ae, Q.96, A.4.

   7 Haec potestas est necessaria ad bonam rei publicae humanae
     Op. cit., Pt. I, Tom. V, Lib. III, Cap. 21.

   8 Ex damno et periculo, quod bono publico publicaeque securitati
     inferretur si impune id agere liceret.
     Theol. Mor., Pt. I, Lib. I, Div. II, Par. 4, n. 761.

   9 Tota difficultas consistit in assignanda ratione hujus veritatis:
     nam licet turpitudo haec statim appareat, non tamen facile est ejus
     fundamentum invenire: unde (quod in aliis multis quaestionibus
     contingit) magis certa est conclusio, quam rationes, quae variae a
     diversis afferuntur ad ejus probationem. De Just. et Jure, Disp. X,
     Sec. I, Num. 2.

   10 Fatendum est esse aliquas practicas vertitates humano convictui
     necessarias, quas homines instinctu quodam rationali percipiunt et
     sentiunt, quarum tamen rationem prorsus demonstrativam, cum eam
     iidem analytice quaerunt, difficulter inveniunt. Videtur voluisse
     natura sive auctor naturae hujusmodi instinctu aut sensu rationali
     supplere defectum rationis se exercentis: ... Inter hujusmodi
     veritates haec quoque forte, qua de agimus, invenitur. Theologia
     Moralis, Tr. VI, Sec. VI, Num. 119, Vol. II, pp. 727-728.


     J. Kelleher, Private Ownership, Dublin, 1911.

     Capecelatro, Cardinal, Christ, the Church, and Man. St. Louis,

     Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, secunda secundae.

     De Lugo, Cardinal John, De Justitia et Jure.

     Bouquillon, Theologia Moralis Fundamentalis, ed. 2a, Bruges, 1890.

     Liguori, Alphonsus, Theologia moralis.

     Noldin, H., Theologia Moralis, 3 vols., 8th ed., N. Y., 1911.

     Ballerini, Antonio, Theologia Moralis.

     Cuthbert, O. F. M. Cap., Catholic Ideals in Social Life, N. Y.,

     Cunningham, W., Christianity & Social Questions: London, 1910.

     Clark, J. B., Essentials of Economic Theory, 1907.

     United States Bureau of Labor: Report on the Condition of Woman &
       Child Wage-Earners in the United States, 19 vols., 1910-1912.

     Charities Publication Committee, The Pittsburgh Survey.

     Minneapolis Vice Commission, Report, 1911.

     Chicago Vice Commission, Report, 1911.

     Seligman, E. R. A., The Social Evil, N. Y., 1912.

     United States Bureau of Labor, Industrial Hygiene, 1908.

     Kelly, Florence, Some Ethical Gains through Legislation, N. Y.,

     Hunter, Robert, Poverty, N. Y., 1905.

     Le Play, F., La Reforme Sociale, Tours, 1878, 3 vols.

     Missiaen, Berthold, O. M. Cap., L'Appauvrissement des Masses,
       Louvain, 1911.

     Clark, J. B., The Distribution of Wealth, N. Y., 1889.

     Woods, Robert A., ed., Americans in Process, Boston, 1903.

     Bliss, Wm. D. P., ed., New Encyclopedia of Social Reform, N. Y.,

     Clark, Sue Ainslie, & Edith Wyatt, Making Both Ends Meet, N. Y.,

     Streightoff, Frank Hatch, The Standard of Living among the
       Industrial People of America, Boston, 1911.

     Butler, Eliz. Beardsley, Saleswomen in Mercantile Stores, N. Y.,

     Ryan, John A., A Living Wage, N. Y., 1906.

     Devine, Edw. T., Principles of Relief, N. Y., 1904.

     Bousanquet, Helen, The Standard of Life, London, 1908.

     Chapin, Coit, The Standard of Living among Workingmen's Families in
       New York City, N. Y., 1909.

     Journal of Political Economy.

     Economic Journal.

     Quarterly Journal of Economics.

     Journal of the American Sociological Society.

     Annals of the American Academy of Political & Social Science.

     The Survey.

     International Journal of Ethics.


    Accidents: 90ff.

    Alphonsus, Saint: See Liguori

    Aquinas: 11, 18, 28, 29, 46

    Ballerini, Antonio: 22, 27, 28, 29, 45

    Bouquillon, Thomas: 11

    Bowen, Louise de Koven: 98

    Browning, Eliz. B.: 132

    Butler, Eliz. B.: 4, 43, 51ff, 67, 96, 101, 102

    Capecelatro, Card.: 9

    Capital punishment: 28

    Carlyle, Thomas: 35f.

    Carver, T. N.: 60

    Chapin, Coit: 43

      Consumers' obligations of, 31ff;
      duties of, 11

    Cheapness: demand for, 58ff.

    Chicago Vice Commission: 95, 100, 101, 104

    Child-Labor: 93f.

    Child-Labor Committee, National: 100

    Clark, J. B.: 65

    Common good: Scholastic conception of, 28ff.

    Competition: 19ff, 47ff, 55f.

    Compulsory Arbitration: 112

    Conscience, Social: 131

      Duties of, 13ff, 16f, 129ff;
      individual action, 107, 109, 114;
      organization among, 109, 110, 130;
      responsibility of, 5ff.

    Consumers' League: 110, 111, 114ff.

    Consumption (disease): 88ff.

    Co-operation in evil: 13, 23

    Costs of production: 60ff.

    Crawford, Hanford: 60

    Cunningham, W.: 20, 58, 63

    Cuthbert, Father: 108

    Dance Halls: 97f.

    Dangerous occupations: 86ff.

    De Lugo, Card. John, S. J.: 25, 26, 44

    Department Stores: 100, 103

    Devine, Edward T.: 66f.

    Dust: 87f.

      definition of, 11;
      devolution of, 13ff.

      duties of direct, 12;
      liability of, 17

    English Poor Law: 62

    Expenses of production: 59ff.

    Food, Insufficient: 78ff.

    Goldmark, Josephine: 127

    Green, T. H.: 32

    Gury, J. P.: 10

    Hibbert Journal: 131

    Hours of work: 4, 84f.

    Housing conditions: 77ff, 95f.

    Hunter, Robert: 128

    Industrial Commission, U. S.: 68, 87, 94

    Injustice, definition of: 11

    Innocent: indirect killing of, lawful, 28

    Interest: 15

    Interest-takers, duties of: 15

      Consumers' obligations of, 13ff;
      definition of, 11;
      duties of, 11

    Kelleher, Rev. J.: 9

    Kelley, Florence: 114

    Label: See White List

    Labor, N. Y. S. Bureau of: 68f, 74ff, 88

    Labor, N. Y. S. Commissioner of: 82, 91

    Labor, U. S. Bureau of: 16, 42, 43, 52ff, 61, 68, 70ff, 77ff, 89ff, 96, 97, 113

    Labor, U. S. Commission of: 84

    Law: binding force of civil: 28

    Lehmkuhl, Aug.: 29

    Leo XIII: 8

    Liguori, Saint Alphonsus: 18, 23, 27, 28, 29

    Living, Standard of: 9, 38ff, 66

    Lowell, Josephine Shaw: 117

    Maistre, de: 111

    Mazzini, Giuseppe: 5

    Mercantile Employers' Bill: 122

    Middle Ages, Medieval system: 19f.

    Minneapolis Vice Commission: 54, 103

    Morris, William: 132

    Mouth, The: 116

    Necessity: definition of, 33

    Neighbor: meaning of, 31

    Night work: 84f.

    Noldin, H.: 29

    O'Reilly, John Boyle: 127

    Packingtown: 96

    Paine, Thomas: 5

    Pittsburgh Survey: 51, 52, 66

    Pius X: 8

    Poisoning: 86f.

    Poverty: 127ff.

    Price: 18ff, 57f, 60

      justification of private, 29;
      superfluous, 1, 33

    Prostitution: 95, 101ff.

    Rent-takers: duties of, 14

    Right: definition of, 10ff.

    Ryan, John A.: 15, 42f.

    Saloon, The: 99

    Scudder, Vida: 131

    Seager, H. R.: 61

    Sidgwick, H.: 61

    Social argument: 13, 27ff.

    Southwell, Robert: 105, 128

    Speeding-up: 85f.

    State: authority of, 28

    State-Insurance: 112

    Suarez, Francisco, S. J.: 27, 28, 46

    Subsistence standard: 39

    Suicide: 29f.

    Survey: 67, 98, 101, 104, 123

    Thomas, Saint: See Aquinas

    Thorold, Algar: 97

    Title, just: 22f.

    Tuberculosis: 88ff.

    Ulpian: 11

    Unemployed: 66

    Unemployment: 68f.

    Value: 13, 17ff.

    Ventilation: 79ff.

    Wage, Minimum: 42, 46, 112, 113

    Wages: 4, 48ff, 62ff, 66ff, 70ff;
      right to living, 9;
      standard of living, 8, 9

    War: 29

    White List: 55, 118, 124, 125

    Williams, A. B.: 98

      conditions of work, 4;
      hours of work, 4;
      wages, 4, 67

      conditions of, 4, 51ff;
      right to, 9

    Working Women's Society: 117, 119

       *       *       *       *       *

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