Зображення сторінки

choice, on either side. Not so where such competence is wanting', or where moral relations, extrinsic to the bargain, are bound up with it.* Then the State may reasonably interfere, and ought to interfere, for the protection of those who arc unable to protect themselves—" Parliament," the younger Pitt finely said, "is omnipotent to protect "—and for the maintenance of its ethical end. And a long series of Truck Acts, Mines Acts, Factory and Workshop Acts, Merchant Shipping Acts, and the like statutes, passed in the teeth of the most determined opposition from the selfishness of capitalists and the superstition of Smithian economists, affords satisfactory cvidenco that this duty has been increasingly recognized in our country. Nor can it be doubted that the principles thus implicitly rather than explicitly recognized will receive more abundant development.

Secondly, it is unquestionably the duty of the State to put an end to that application of the law of Supply and Demand, which, arising in the internecine warfare of "strikes" and " lock-outs," is becoming a grave peril to national well-being.

* Professor Green well remarks: " We must cease to insist on maintaining the form of free contract where the reality is

impossible To uphold the sanctity of contract is doubtless

a prime business of Government. But it is no less its business to provide against contracts being made, which, from the helplessness of one of the parties to them, instead of being a security for freedom become an instrument of disguised oppression." — Work", vol. iii. p. 382.

[ocr errors]

Vil] yl ./d',ST /VtfC'A. 233

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, hie ct nitnc, the justttm pretium of labour, the minimum \ hire which it shall be lawful for employers to tender tp_theirjworkpeople. 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 give. Labour and Capital, once associated in the medieval guilds—I am well aware that there are two sides to their history—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? Eor 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 vii.] PROPER HOUSING AND RECREATIOX. 235

* History of Political Economy, p. 214.

* Principles of Political Economy, Book V. chap. x. § 5. Elsewhere he writes: "The form of association which, if mankind continue to improve, must he 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 "satisfactory proof" that this Utopia can be realized. See his History of Political Economy, p. 153

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

Fourthly, tho 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 tho decent housing and the reasonable recreation of the toiling masses. The life and death of nations depend upon the questions 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 tho 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 alt 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. Tho proper object of taxation is not merely the land, as Mr. Hemy George supposes, but the whole bounty of nature: the earth and all that is therein or thereon — save man himself— whether 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

* Principles of Economics, Boole IV. chap. v. § C.

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, Avhile professing to be a tax on all property."* The question is too largo to pursue further here. I may, however, remark that in modern fiscal systems two great funda

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

« НазадПродовжити »