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they set up for themselves as that below which they will not go, but will also dispose them to propagate' sufficiently to make up the inevitable, incessant loss of labor from death or disability. If the standard of living referred to above varies among several communities or countries, then the term “necessary wages” must be interpreted in each community or country according to the habitual standard there maintained.
It is, then, because something besides vice and misery do, in a degree, limit the increase of population, that the question of necessary wages becomes more than the question of the amount of the barest, baldest subsistence which will keep men alive and in condition for labor. And as, il fact, the standard of living varies with each community or country, the laboring population in no two making precisely the same requirements as the condition precedent to their keeping their numbers good, the term necessary wages must be understood in each country and separate community according to the habitual standard there maintained.
Necessary wages, as thus defined, may be very low. It is commonly said that the lowest point which can be reached is that at which enough food (taking that as the type of expenditure), of the coarsest and meanest kind, can
* It will be seen that the wages of the laborer thus made necessary must include not only his own subsistence but that of those persons, not themselves productive laborers, whose maintenance is a means to the supply of labor in the immediate future. Thus the wages of the broad-winners must provide food and care for women in the weakness of childbearing, and for children in the years of infancy. Whether they shall also provide food and care for the aged in their decrepi. tude, and for the crippled and infirm, is determined by other considerations, to be noted further on. These, at least, are not essential to the supply of labor; and in barbarous countries not a few, the horrid custom of making away with those who are regarded as a hopeless burden shows that the support of such is not an element of necessary wages among those peoples.
be provided to sustain life and the ability to labor. But in truth necessary wages may be a great deal lower than that. It is found that, throughout countries comprising a large part of the human race, the wages given and taken not only provide subsistence so scanty and so little nourishing that the population become stunted and more or less deformed and ineffective in labor; but that even so, a large part of all who are born die in infancy and early childhood from the effects of privation. The horrible infant mortality of many districts is not accounted for solely by neglect of sanitary precautions, but is also largely due to the low diet of mothers and children.
But necessary wages may not only be so low as to require the death, under four years of age, of one half the persons born into the community: they may be so low as to require the phrase " to sustain life” to be very much qualified in respect to those who survive the period of childhood and attain the capacity to labor. In most countries, if we take civilized and semi-civilized together, no scale of wages is so necessary but that population will, in spite of an infant mortality aggravated almost to the proportions of a gen. eral massacre, increase to the point of docking one quarter, one third, or one half from the natural term of the industrial force, for all those who come to man's estate. By this I mean that, if adequate and wholesome food, with simply decent and healthful conditions of life, would, with no regeneration of society or perfection of individual manhood, or even so much as the sanitary reformation of cities and dwellings, allow to persons attaining the age of 20 years a further term, upon the average, of 40 years, population is still capable of increasing, in spite of the principle of necessary wages, until food, clothing, and firing are so reduced, and dwellings become so crowded, that, instead of 40 years, an average term no longer than 30, or even 20 years, is allowed to those who attain manhood. Surely the phrase to “ sustain life” needs to be qualified in such
cases, where life is, in fact, from want of food and ordinary comforts, sustained through but a fraction of its otherwise natural term.
We have thus reduced the scope of the principle of necessary wages by showing, first, that no wages at all are necessary unless some one sees it for his own interest to employ labor, and, secondly, that when wages are paid, it is not necessary that they should be sufficient to support more than two thirds or one half of the persons born into the world, or, in the case of those actually surviving to the age of labor, to“ sustain life” through more than one half or three fourths of the natural term of labor.
But there is nevertheless a truth in the doctrine of necessary wages. There is a point below which if, in any community, wages go, the supply of labor will not be kept up; and hence if employers will have labor, they must pay for it up to this point.
But it is not in every community, it is not in most communities, perhaps it is not in any community, so long as employment is offered at all, that the minimum of wages is fixed by the barest physical conditions of keeping up the supply of labor. Powerful as is the sexual passion,' it has not unresisted sway. Somewhere above the point we have indicated—it may be far above, it may be but a little way above thismen will cease bringing children into the world. They may—in many countries they do—increase to such an extent as to involve the frightful infant mortality we have noticed, and to reduce the term of adult life to very narrow limits. But they will not sink to prove the last possibilities of the case; they stop short of the bald, brutal demonstration of the inability to keep up the supply of labor upon scantier food, fire, and raiment; and stopping here, they do
""Happily there is but one passion of the same nature; for if there were two there would not be a single man left in the universe who would be able to follow the truth."-An Eastern writer,
in fact give themselves some little margin of living. The Chinaman buys his precious drug; the East Indian gives months of every year to the service of his goggle-eyed divinity.
In Persia, Turkey, and other States of the East imperative custom requires the most lavish ontlay in the period immediately before marriage, for which preparation or reparation has to be made during preceding or succeeding years of labor. “A man,” writes Mr. Consul Taylor from Koordistan,' “ one would not suppose to possess a penny, not unfrequently spends £30, raised on loan from his employer, that is dissipated during the seven days of riotous living preceding the ceremony."
Here, then, we have the actual as distinguished from the theoretical minimum ; in other words, the “necessary wages,” the wages that must be paid to keep the supply of labor good, if, indeed, it is to be kept good; for that, we have seen, is not a necessity. All the way up from this low plane, through the scale of nations, we find points established which mark the minimum of wages for one community or another, those wages, namely, on which that community will consent to keep its numbers good. Such wages thus become the necessary wages for that community, necessary only in the sense that the habits of living among the people will not permit reproduction sufficient to repair the natural waste of labor, on any lower terms, with any thing less of the “ necessaries, comforts, and luxuries” of life.
Now, since among most peoples food is the main object
* Report on the Condition of the Industrial Classes, 1871, p. 800, cf. 721. In Koordistan the annual earnings of the artisan appear to range from £12 to £18.
* The eminent statistician, Dr. Engel, of Berlin, has given the fol. lowing comparative statement as showing the average relative expenditure in Prussia of families of three classes, ranging from those of well-to-do artisans to those of persons in easy circumstances :
upon which wages are expended, economists have been very much in the way of grading the “necessary wages” of nations according to their habits respecting food, the princi
5. Education, Worship, etc... 6. Legal protection.......... 7. Care of health............ 8. Comfort and Recreation...
100 1 100 From this table Dr. Engel deduces the following proposition : While the proportion of the total outlay upon food increases as the family becomes poorer, the percentage of outlay for clothing is approximately, and that for lodging is invariably, the same in the three classes taken for consideration, Dr. Engel seems disposed to regard this very much as a law of expenditure. I am disposed to believe, however, that the apparent conformity has been reached by merging urban and rural communities which if considered separately would show very wide differences of expenditure on the several objects indicated; and, secondly, that the extension of the inquiry to other latitudes and other social conditions would develop great diversity in these respects. The Baron Riesbeck in his Travels in Germany (Pinkerton, vi. 147, 173), in 1780, notes the very marked differences existing between Southern and Northern Germany as to the scale of expenditure on dress. The lower orders among the Turks probably expend more of their earnings relatively upon dress than the higher classes. The same may probably be assumed respecting the ordinary Danish workman, who insists on passing himself off as a gentleman on Sundays. Again, the scale of expenditure on lodging varies greatly according to social conditions. In England, Mr. Clifford says, “the agricultural laborer seldom pays, even for a good cottage, more than yo of his income, and more commonly to. The town laborer receiving 18 or 20