« НазадПродовжити »
finances of the State cannot but be of great interest to the politician and the economist. The first thing that strikes the reader of M. Heidborn's pages is the wastefulness in the collection of revenue. No less than twenty-five separate offices were concerned in gathering in the income of the State, and the amount of leakage on the way may be well imagined. Gradually, however, as Turkey came more and more into contact with the modern European State-system, Turkish administration took on a new aspect. It was so in justice, in education, in finance. And at the present moment the finances are managed by two independent bodies, (1) the Council of the Administration of Public Debt, established in 1881, and (2) the Ministry of Finance. The latter is in a hopeless state of chronic bankruptcy, and though the new régime of 1908–9 did, indeed, attempt to improve matters, in a land like Turkey improvements are slow of realisation. One of the wisest provisions of the reforms was the establishment of a School of Finance in 1910 for the education of Treasury officials. Another step in the right direction was the institution of a budget on modern lines, wherein the items are classified in the most approved method of the best German text-books on Public Finance. Glance at the last two or three budgets and you will find the revenue of the State divided into eight sources : direct taxes, including tithes; stamp dues ; indirect taxes; monopolies ; State undertakings; State domains; tribute (from Egypt, Cyprus, Samos, and Mt. Athos); and miscellaneous revenues. It is not always easy to obtain the opportunity of studying an analysis of the Turkish budget; M. Heidborn has supplied full tables for the budgets of 1910–11 and 1911-12.
In both cases a striking fact is the proportion between direct and indirect taxation (about two to one). The greater part of the former is furnished by the heavy tithes, which are in effect taxes on the produce of the soil as well as on farm animals. M. Heidborn does not deal with the effects of taxation; his task is to set forth financial practice as it is. Otherwise he would, no doubt, have called attention to the seriousness of the burden which the tithes (the so-called uchur) place on agriculture, stemming its healthy development. Equally striking is the contrast between rural taxation (yielding in 1911-12 $T10,902,820), and urban taxation (£T1,645,498).
For some illuminating comments on this inequality, as for an excellent account of the tamettu, or income tax, we would refer the student to M. Heidborn's pages.
The third division of the book is devoted to the Ottoman public debt-its appearance in 1854, its growth since then, its administration at the present time. We have carefully compared M. Heidborn's treatment of this subject with Sir Adam Block's recent report, and we can only say that it is admirable.
No. 89.--VOL. XXIII,
NOTES AND MEMORANDA
NOTES ON WAGES AND THE COST OF LIVING IN SOUTH AFRICA.
IN South Africa occupations are, in a general way, as varied and complex as they are at home, but division of labour has not been carried out to so minute an extent. A mason, for instance, in South Africa might find it necessary to have some knowledge of brick-making, joinery, and of machinery; a carpenter would be expected to know something about wagon-building, and a blacksmith is often called to do some fitting or engineering work. That is to say, occupations or trades are not so definitely marked as at home, and experience of work is more general.
Speaking broadly, wages in South Africa are higher than at home in all trades and occupations, owing mainly to the difference in the supply of skilled labour. The average wage, for example, of a good bookkeeper ranges from $15 to £25 a month in a moderate sized business. This in turn reacts on the unskilled labourers. The presence of a coloured race, moreover, undeniably gives a higher value to the labour of white men. This has an important effect on indigency, and makes a poor white's problem quite different from the unemployed and out of work question at home. It means that those unskilled white labourers, who, through no fault of their own, fail to maintain themselves in the aristocracy of labour which is theirs by right of colour or efficiency, fall far below the level of the coloured race. If a white man at any occupation can command only the equivalent wage of a Kaffir in the mines, for instance, his case is pitiable in the extreme. For the Kaffir on his wage is rather comfortably off ; he needs little clothes, and these he buys secondhand, and his food is very inexpensive ; his amusements and luxuries are very low, while in addition he probably has a plot of land around his kraal at home, and this is worked by his wives. He resorts thither at intervals to rest ; his income is supplemented in this way. The white man, confronted with the high cost of living and his different standard of life, is badly off. A third element that conduces to high wages is really an extension of the first, yet different in
its application. A large percentage of the skilled workers in the mines hail from the old country; and most of the expert engineers, draftsmen and surveyors have been imported for their particular branches of work. These men having left home and home comforts must be compensated by increased wages for their loss of home privileges. This element of sacrifice of comforts enters largely into all calculations. A man before going abroad as a colonist generally weighs up whether it is worth his while, from a mercenary point of view, to leave home, friends, and prospects for a position in the new country. If he sees that the higher wage obtained will enable him to save more ceteris paribus, he is better off. So this element of being able to save more enters into prominence.
Some high wages paid in the mines are, as at home, due to the character of the labour and of the work, apart from supply and demand. Some types of labour are dangerous and the mortality great. In the gold mines pneumonia and phthisis are caused by the fine dust which the miner encounters in drilling the rock. These diseases may or may not be prevented, but the fact that the danger exists enters somewhat into the money price paid for the labour. The wages in the gold mines on the Rand are greater than the wages in the coalmines. A miner's wage in a gold mine averages daily from 21s. to 358., according as he works by shift or by contract. It is rare that an actual coalminer gets 20s. a day. The average in the Natal mines is lower, and lies between 14s. and 21s. per diem. The average wage of a carpenter, bricklayer, fitter, or the like is 20s. a day; and while the man is single he can save about 8s. out of this and live well on the remainder. But for the married man in Johannesburg to keep a wife and family on 20s. per day is not an easy matter at the present scale of prices. Certain firms in Johannesburg discourage marriage among employees earning a salary of under £300 a year.
In the early days of the mining industry the farmers of the Transvaal were able to supply mealies, meat, eggs and vegetables to the mines, and got very good prices for them. This local market proved a great impetus to the farming industry as a whole, but after the junction of Johannesburg with the Cape by rail in 1892, and subsequently with Natal and Delagoa Bay, great quantities of food were imported from overseas, and the farmer temporarily lost his control over the market. Incidentally it may also be noted that the appearance of the railway threw out of employment a vast number of transport riders, as previous to
this all goods, foods, and merchandise, machinery, &c., were carted to the mines by wagons. The competition for a time paralysed the farmers and dislocated the supply of labour. They received a further set back owing to the war, which disorganised them and dislocated the supply of labour. During this time most of the necessaries of life were imported to Johannesburg, Pretoria and other towns, by rail from the Cape and England. However, the farmers latterly are making use of the market at their doors, and soon a time will come when they will be able to supply practically all that is necessary apart from luxuries.
A general examination of retail prices of food sold to-day at Johannesburg shows a difference of from 50 to 100 per cent. in price as compared with the prices of similar articles in England. This difference is due partly to the greater cost of production and partly to the high prices obtained for other articles, such as clothes, furniture, &c. For the prices paid for these articles tend to affect prices of food by the general economic levelling up which takes place; the baker and the market gardener, having to pay the high prices demanded for the other articles, raise prices accordingly. A characteristic instance of this occurred to the writer just after landing at Capetown. After the monotony of life on board ship, a glass of milk was thought to be a delicious beverage, for all milk on board was sterilised and not very palatable. Sixpence was charged for a glass which at home would be easily procurable for a penny or twopence.
Coming to conventional necessaries, there is a great variation of prices according to the article in question. It must also be borne in mind that out of a total import in 1909 of £27,000,000, £6,000,000 were articles of food and drink; and in nearly all cases there is a tax on these articles. Therefore the prices obtaining throughout South Africa differ materially from those at home, not only by the extra cost of freights, but also by the amount of the duty. And as happens in nearly all protected countries where food and other necessaries are taxed, the prices of luxuries and amusements are correspondingly greater than in those countries where the former are not taxed. This is simply an illustration of the interdependence of economic facts; we cannot raise the wages of the plasterer without at the same time affecting the wages of the carpenter. Crockery, articles of decoration, sweets, paintings and fixtures are from 50 to 200 per cent. dearer than at home. Tobacco, a conventional necessary, is cheaper, as a great deal is grown in the country, but if one wants English tobacco one has, of course, to pay more for it. Beer,