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office being to prevent waste; how frequently, too, good acts become bad precedents. 1
Yet these considerations, strong as they are, do not suffice to create doubt in my mind of the justification, on purely economical grounds, of laws for the registration of real estate, for the liinitation or prohibition of truck, or for the regulation of the labor of children, of women, or even of men, in accordance with the dictates of the most advanced sanitary science. In Chapter XVIII, questions will arise respecting the practical influence of legislation upon the substantial freedom of industrial movement. These will be discussed with single reference to the principle of judgment here set up. And when the question of trades unions and strikes comes before us, it will be treated on the same grounds. I shall not deem the question to be decided against these agencies by the fact that they take the form of inhibition and restriction ; but shall hold myself bound to inquire whether they do, in their time and place, increase or diminish the freedom and the fulness of the laborer's resort to market, bearing in mind that his practical ability to accomplish that resort, is made up of a material element, the means of transportation and of provisional maintenance, and of intellectual and moral elements, quite as essential.
I "It is one thing to repudiate the scientific authority of laissez faire, freedom of contract, and so forth: it is a totally different thing to set up the opposite principle of state control, the doctrine of paternal government. For my part, I accept neither one doctrine nor the other, and, as a practical rule, I hold laissez faire to be incomparably the safer guide. Only let us remember that it is a practical rule, and not a doctrine of science; a rule in the main sound, but, like most other sound practical rules, liable to numerous exceptions ; above all, a rula which must never for a moment be allowed to stand in the way of the candid consideration of any promising proposal of social or industria reform."-J. E. Caimes' Essays in Pol. Econ., p. 251.
THE MOBILITY OF LABOR.
perfectly command in the his can be
We have seen that, with perfect competition, the work ing classes have ample security that they will, at all times, receive the greatest amount of wages which is consistent with the existing conditions of industry. The object of the present chapter is to ascertain, if we may, how far the actual mobility of labor corresponds to that theoretical mobility which is involved in perfect competition.
And first, we note that the theoretical mobility of labor rests on the assumption that laborers will, in all things and at all times, pursue their economic interests; that they perfectly comprehend those interests, and will suffer nothing to stand in the way of their attainment. Of course the men of whom this can be predicated are not real human men. They are a class of beings devised for the purposes of economical reasoning in accordance with the definition given by Mr. Mill in his “Essays on some Unsettled Questions in Political Economy," as follows: “Political Economy is concerned with man solely as a being who desires to possess wealth, and who is capable of judging of the comparative efficacy of means to that end. . . It makes entire abstraction of every other human passion or motive, except those which may be regarded as perpetnally antagonizing principles to the desire of wealth, namely, aversion to labor and desire of the present enjoyment of costly indulgences. These it takes, to a certain extent, into its calcnlations, because these de
not merely, like other desires, occasionally conflict with the pursuit of wealth, but accompany it always as a drag or impediment, and are therefore inseparably mixed up in the consideration of it. Political Economy considers mankind as occupied solely 1 in acquiring and consuming wealth."
But thus to frame a system of economics upon the assumption of the perfect, unintermitted, unimpeded action of one, and that not always the most potential, of many human motives, is it not, as Dr. Whewell has said, ” as if the physical geographer should construct his scheme in recognition of gravitation alone, disregarding the power of cohesion in preserving the original structure of the earth's surface, and should thus reach the conclusion that all the mountains must at once run down into the valleys and the face of nature become a plain? In much the same way the economist of the à priori school disregards the original structure of industrial society, the separation of classes and nations, the obstructions offered by differences of race, religion and speech, 8 the effects of strangeness and appre
* If Mr. Mill had said, “Political economy considers mankind solely as occupied in acquiring and consuming wealth," the statement would have been unexceptionable. But if “Political economy considers man. kind as occupied solely in acquiring and consuming wealth," Political * economy considers mankind most falsely; and the results in economi. cal reasoning of that unwarranted assumption have been most mischievous. Political economy is not bound to consider mankind so far as they are occupied in anything else than in acquiring and consuming wealth ; but it is bound in simple honesty not to consider them as oc.cupied in acquiring and consuming wealth when they are not, and to a degree they are not.
• Introduction to R. Jones' Pol. Econ. • The effects of speech-differences in preventing the easy and rapid flow of labor are clearly to be seen in France and Scotland. The greater number of the Bas Bretons cannot speak or understand French, and are hence confined more closely to their native fields, than the people of any other section. [Report of H. B. M. Consul Clipperton, 1872, p. 160.]
The commissioners of the Scotch Census of 1871 found the influ
hension of change, the constraints of ignorance and superstition, the attachments of home, country and friends, the helplessness of men in new occupations, the jealousy of imported labor, and perhaps more than all else, the inhibition of migration, in the case of perhaps the vast majority of the race, by the want of the supplies of food and money necessary to their removal and immediate subsistence.
Does the comparison seem extravagant? Look at China. There is found a population of three or four hundred millions, of whose mode of life and means of subsistence travellers give accounts that are simply shocking; rednced to the vilest food, the vilest clothing, the vilest shelter, or done at all of the latter two classes of assumed nccessaries. Opposite their own land lies a region of great fertility, containing vast expanses with an average population of from one to fonr, six or ten to the square mile. Why has not this mountain run down into this valley: Why have not untold millions poured upon our shores to relieve the fearful internal pressure of the Celestial Empire? The reasons are too familiar to need to be stated. The fact is what we wish to use here. What a commentary on the political economy which has been reared on the assumption of the absolute mobility of labor! Three or four hundred million Chinese suffering the extremity of misery at home; 63,199 Chinese in the United States in 1870, and that, after the energetic recruiting of Mr. Koopmans
ence of this cause very powerful in preventing emigration from the northern and western parts of Scotland, including the Isles, where the Gaelic is still spoken. (Report p. 20. cf. 4th Report (1870) on the em ployment of women and children in Agr., p. 117.]
"Miss Martineau notes the jealousy of "imported labor" (from Ire. land) during the Napoleonic wars. (Hist. England I. 332.] Even so late as 1846, the committee on Railway Laborers reported that not only did the Irish and the Scotch not work on the same gangs with the Eng. lish navvies, but they were kept apart from each other. [Report p.5.) There was especial jealousy manifested toward the Irish importations. (Ibid. p. 52, 77.)
choop and his emigrant-runners! The original struct. ure of that mountain, at least, has withstood the effects of gravitation with not a little success. Popocatapetl has lost a larger proportion of his bulk, in the last one hundred years.
But we may turn to a people less strangely constituted and less strongly conserved than the Chinese; a people longer in contact with the western world, and in blood, speech and faith far less removed from the nations of Europe. The inhabitants of British India have been moved even less than those of China, by the pressure of population, to seek relief in niore sparsely settled portions of the globe. With the wages of manual labor at 3d. a day in good times, and with a scarcity amounting to famine on an average once in four or five years, the East Indians respect the "original structure” by which they were placed on the great Asiatic peninsula, and meet their fate where they were born, without thought of change. Wages may rise to any height in America and Australia, but the people of India are even unconscious of any impulse to emigration; and with oriental stoicism and fatalism abide in their lot, like the everlasting hills that guard their northern frontier.
Surely we need not seek more such illustrations to justify Dr. Whewell's comparison. In these two instances, we have seen nearly half the human kind bound in fetters of race and speech and religion and caste, of tradition and habit and ignorance of the world, of poverty and ineptitude and inertia which practically exclude them from the competitions of the world's industry.
In turning now to consider this matter of the power of labor to protect itself, by migration or otherwise, among peoples of a higher industrial civilization, we need to proceed somewhat more analytically. Let us discuss this question under two titles :
1st. The migration of laborers from place to place.