Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

X

But how? By requiring that such disputes between capital and labour be submitted to a public tribunal, consisting of not less than three Commissioners, equal in standing and authority to the judges of the High Court, who should have power to determine, in every case brought before them, what is, hic et nunc, the justum pretium of labour, the ininimum hire which it shall be lawful for employers to tender

their workpeople. And, if it be said that the award of such a tribunal could not be made binding| upon the workpeople, but only upon the employer, I answer that this is sufficient. It would be enough that a Court, commanding general confidence, should declare, “ This is, at present, a just price; less shall not be given, until we order otherwise." Public opinion, the force of which, in such matters, is rightly great, would strongly condemn the operatives who, by refusing to accept the rate of wages so awarded, should approve themselves as unjust, and would leave them without pity to the sentence, “If any man will not work, neither shall he eat."

Thirdly, we may rest assured, with Dr. Ingram, that “the mere conflict of private interests will never produce a well-ordered commonwealth of labour.”*

And it is the duty of the State actively to encourage, and by wise legislation to aid, that systematic organization of industrial society which the law of Supply and Demand cannot possibly

* History of Political Economy, p. 214.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

give. Labour and Capital, once associated in the medieval guilds—I am well aware that there are two sides to their liistory—are now dissociated. They should be brought together again. Instead of isolation and competition, we want organization based on common pursuits, common aims, common duties, common interests. “For independence we must substitute interdependence." The truest antidote to Socialism is co-operation. I agree

with Mr. Mill that “for any radical improvement in the social and economical relations between labour and capital we have chiefly to look to” a regular participation of the labourers in the profits derived from their labour." * Then, again, what can be more irrational and wasteful than the present system, or rather no-system, by which commodities are distributed ? For example, hundreds of household tradesmen and their assistants are engaged in doing the work which could be done far more efficiently and more cheaply by tens, if co-operative methods were employed. Perhaps the most perfect

* Principles of Political Economy, Book V. chap. x. $ 5. Elsewhere he writes: “ The form of association which, if mankind continue to improve, must be expected in the end to predominate, is not that which can exist between a capitalist as chief and workpeople without a voice in the management, but the association of the labourers themselves on terms of equality, collectively owning the capital with which they carry on their operations, and working under managers elected and removable by themselves.”Ibid., Book IV. chap. vii. $ 6. Dr. Ingram remarks on the absence of satis. factory proof” that this Utopia can be realized. See his History of Political Economy, p. 153

v1.]

PROPER HOUSING AND RECREATION.

235

example of such methods is afforded by the Post Office. Manifestly I can here touch on only the barest outlines of this subject.

Fourthly, the State is most directly and most deeply interested in the physical and moral wellbeing of its members. And essential requisites of such well-being are the decent housing and the reasonable recreation of the toiling masses. The life and death of nations depend upon the ques. tions called social. And this is one of the most pressing of them. Manufactories have attracted vast multitudes of people into our great cities. Who can consider how they are housed there, under the operation of the law of Supply and Demand, without not merely compassion, but indignation : for it is unjust. Professor Marshall, I note with satisfaction, expresses his opinion that “there is perhaps no better use of public money than in providing public parks and playgrounds in large cities, in contracting with railways to increase the number of the workmen's trains run by them, and in helping those of the working classes who are willing to leave the large towns to do so, and to take their industries with them."* Is it asked, Where are the funds to come from for all this? The answer is, that there would be abundant funds if the public revenue were raised by a rational and just system. There can be no question that a general property tax ad valorem is the ideal of a fair impost.

* Principles of Economics, Book IV. chap. v. $ 6.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

The

proper object of taxation is not merely the land, as Mr. llenry George supposes, but the whole bounty of nature: the earth and all that is therein or thereon - save man himselfwhether it exists in a natural or a transmuted state. Thus, for the house in which I live, the table at which I sit, the pen with which I write, ransom is due to the community, because these things are portions of the common heritage appropriated to my use. But I belong to myself. Therefore no tax should be laid upon me, as a person, nor upon any exercise of my personality. I do not say that this ideal can be completely realized in modern commercial countries. Professor Seligman is, I suppose, well warranted when he writes: “The general property tax as the main source of public revenue is shown to be a failure. .. .. Historically once well nigh universal,

in a community mainly agricultural it was not unsuited to the social conditions. But as soon as commercial and industrial considerations came to the foreground in national or municipal life, the property tax decayed .... and ultimately turned into a tax on real property, while professing to be a tax on all property."* The question is too large to pursue further here. I

may, however, remark that in modern fiscal systems two great funda

.

* Sce his learned article in the Political Science Quarterly, March, 1890.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

mental principles are inadequately recognized : the principle of equality of sacrifice: and the principle that indirect taxation—if resorted to at all-should fall only on luxuries, not on necessaries. Vi

Fifthly, it is the office of the State to break down monopolies, in which, as a matter of fact, the unchecked working of the law of Supply and Demand issues, * and which the law of England justly abhors, for three reasons, “ the raising of the price, the deterioration of the commodity, the inpoverislıment of poor artificers.” Consider the Rings and the Trusts fastened like vampires on American industries, and not altogether unknown in this country, which determine the Supply and satisfy the Demand on their own terris. Again, the nionopolies enjoyed by Railway and Water Companies—to give only two examples—are utterly wrong in principle.† Such great public works ought to be owned by public authorities, and to be

* On this subject see some interesting remarks in Mr. Syme's Outlines of an Industrial Science, pp. 58–63.

† Mr. Mill remarks: “ A road, a canal, a railway, are always, in a great degree, practical monopolies: and a government which concedes such monopoly unreservedly to a private company does much the same thing as if it allowed an individual or an association to levy any tax they chose for their own benefit, on all the malt produced in the country, or on all the cotton imported into it.” He adds, that the State may be proprietor of canals or railways without itself working them,” and expresses his opinion that "they will be almost always better worked by means of a company, renting the railway or canal for a limited period from the State.” Principles of Political Economy, Book V. chap. xi. § 11.

« НазадПродовжити »