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Vermont, away from a railroad, can buy food for his fam. ily at prices which would sound like a dream to a town mechanic. Indeed some of the most expensive luxuries of the city, to which professional men scarce aspire, sweet cream, fresh fruits, and new-laid eggs, are within easy reach of his means. The more substantial articles of diet, meats, grains, and vegetables, cost one half, or one third perhaps, what they do in a city market. Would he build a house? The main material costs little; the land less. Does he lease a cottage? His rent is not one fourth what his city cousin pays for perhaps squalid and unwholesome quarters.
But, it may be asked, is not the country mechanic at a disadvantage in respect to all the commodities, whether manufactured articles or the products of agriculture, which are brought from abroad; and does not this disadvantage go far to counterbalance the advantages enumerated ? It can not be questioned that a loss is suffered on this account; but it is much less than the gain by reason of two causes : first, the greater share of his expenditures are for articles produced near by ; second, those which are brought from abroad are, almost without exception, markedly inferior in bulk to those which are supplied by the domestic market, and hence their price is less enhanced by transportation. He saves upon his meats and grains and vegetables, his fuel, and the timber for his house, the freight of those articles to a market; he pays the freight from market upon groceries and spices; upon clothes and shoes; upon nails and putty and glass.
My second warning relates to the liability of error in comparison of wages due to the great diversity which exists in the articles consumed by the wages class in different places and at different times. Even in the lowest condition of life the laborer's expenditure is upon several articles which are necessary to his subsistence, while in countries where nature is more liberal or art has greatly diversified human industry, the laborer indulges in a con
siderable variety of expenditures. Now, not only is it true that some of these articles may rise in price while others remain stationary, or even decline—or if all rise, yet each rises in a degree peculiar to itself, and so an average becomes difficult to reach, particularly in the absence of ample and authentic statistics of retail trade, scarcely anywhere attainable—but those articles which make up the subsistence of workingmen are consumed by them in very various proportions, rendering it necessary, in estimating the comparative wages of two periods, to have regard not only to the advance or decline in price of each such article, but also to the amount thereof entering into consumption, inasmuch as a large advance upon some commodity which the laborer uses but rarely and in very limited amounts may affect his well-being far less than a moderate rise in another commodity of prime necessity.
This it is which makes it so difficult to compare wages at different periods in the United States. The habits of the people vary and have varied so greatly in respect to dress and diet, not to speak of other things, as to make it almost impossible to secure a statement which will be accepted by all candid parties to a controversy as to the quantities of each principal article of consumption, which shall represent the expenditure of the average workman's family; and unless a statement of quantities can be accepted as approximately correct, it can afford only a vague idea to secure even a precise statement of the prices of the several articles.
II. Nominal and Real Wages may differ, secondly, by reason of varieties in the form of payment.
Wages are, to a very large extent, though reckoned in money, not paid in money. In agriculture, the world
Even when wages are paid in money, there are two methods by which their real value to the laborer may be reduced in addition to all the causes mentioned under the preceding head. These are, first, the practice of " long-pays,” by which the workman is held a long time out of his wages, and obliged to purchase goods meanwhile on credit,
over, full payment in money is highly exceptional where it is not wholly unknown. In England the money wages in general far exceed the estimated value of all the other forms of payment, and rarely constitute less than one half the nominal wages. In Scotland, except in the neighborhood of large towns, payment in kind is very general, while “in some parts of the highlands little money passes at all between employer and employed.”i In Germany the report of the recent commission of the Agricultural Congress proves the custom of payments in kind to prevail in every province from East Prussia to Alsace. In France this custom prevails to a greater or less extent in nearly all departments. In the United States board to the unmarried laborer is perhaps the rule; while in the South, at least, the payment in kind generally includes the subsistence of the laborer and his family, and, to a considerable extent, other necessaries of life.
on ruinous terms. This is sometimes necessary in new countries ; but in old countries it is often resorted to needlessly, and forms one of the standing grievances of the laboring class. The second is the practice of “ truck," by which the workman, though perhaps for form's sake paid in money, is compelled, under fear of discharge, to purchase goods at the employer's store. The effects of the latter practice on the welfare of the laboring classes will be discussed fully at a later stage (pp. 324-42).
1 Fourth Report, Commission on the Employment of Women and Children in Agriculture, p. 110. “Part payment in food still prevails extensively in Wales.”-Frederick Purdy, Statistical Journal, xxiv. 329.
* Die Lage der ländlichen Arbeiter.
“ The married farm-servants," says Mr. Petre in his Report of 1870' on the Condition of the Industrial Classes of Prussia (p. 50), " are called
Deputaten,' or persons receiving an allowance in kind, to distinguish them from other farm-servants who all take their meals together at the farm. The 'Deputaten' receive in addition to their wages a certain allowance of corn, potatoes, etc. This primitive practice is, however, gradually giving way to the system of paying full wages in money."
" In the departments Bouches du Rhône, Gard, and Gironde it is not customary to pay in kind. In some, this description of payment does not amount to more than 10 francs (a year). In somo, it surpasses in value the amount of money payment.”—Lord Brabazon's Report on the Condition of the Industrial Classes of France, 1872, p. 42.
In the various branches of mechanical labor money payment is more usual, though Mr. Seymour Tremenheere, in his visits to the United States prior to 1850, found the practice of paying wages partly in commodities quite general ;? and in England money payments have only been secured by vigorous legislation and great vigilance in administration. Mr. Herries reports that in the sulphurmining districts of Italy “stores exist, under the direction of the administration, where the persons employed are pro vided with oil, wine, and bread, and other necessaries, under the 'tally' or 'truck'system.”
Payment of the wages of mechanical labor otherwise than in the coin of the realm is forbidden in Germany by the Industrial Code of 1869. In France the artisan classes have always resented payment in commodities with a peculiar jealousy.
The multitudinous forms of payment other than in money may be rudely grouped for our present somewhat casual purpose as (1) rent, where cottages or tenements are provided for the laborer and his family by the employer, whether in agricultural or in mechanical industry; (2) board, mainly confined to unmarried laborers; (3) allowances, such as definite quantities of various kinds of food, drink, or fuel ; (4) what we may call, in distinction from No. 5, perquisites, such as the hauling of the laborer's coal or peat by the employer's teams, the keep of a cow, the opportunity to take flour at miller's prices ;' (5) privileges, like the gleaning of fields or the keeping a pig.
1 Report on the Payment of Wages Bill (1854), pp. 103-5. ? Report on the Condition of the Industrial Classes of Italy, 1871, p.
' In Devonshire and elsewhere a “grist-corn” perquisite is recognized, by which the laborer is allowed to have grain at a fixed price per bushel, whatever the market rate. The amount so allowed to be taken ranges from two or three pecks to a bushel every fortnight.Heath's English Peasantry, pp. 95, 96, 140, 141.
"In some counties, as Dorset, the farmer pays part of his men's wages in corn at 1 shilling per bushel below the market price." Mr. Purdy, Stat. Journal, xxiv. 329.
Thus Mr. T. Scott, of Roxburghshire, allows his workmen a free house and garden; food (say 4 weeks) in harvest; carriage of coal; permission to keep a pig, and the keep of a cow; 100 stones of oatmeal, 21 bushels of barley, 6 bushels of peas, 1600 yards of potatoes, 6 tons of coal at pit prices, £5 in money, in addition to extra earnings at harvest.d Another farmer gives his two ploughmen £27 and £26 severally per annum, free cottages and gardens, 6bolls of meal, 3 bolls of potatoes, and “ drives” their coal. Another in the highland part of Lanarkshire gives £18 annually, the keep of a cow, liberty to keep a pig, 65 stones of oatmeal, and 16 cwt. of potatoes. He places the total value of money wages, allowances, etc., at from £35 to £40. From the above it will readily be seen how difficult and how nearly impossible it is to reduce such various conditions to the uniform expression necessary for comparison. The “board” furnished may vary from the generous living characteristic of Cumberland and Westmoreland' in England, and of the United States generally, to the barest and coarsest subsistence allowed in less favored regions. The cottages thus given rent free may be “ model cottages” or they may be of the character described in so many English official reports, early and recent, with reference to which the Earl of Shaftesbury said, “ Dirt and disrepair such as ordinary
1 Fourth Report (1870) Commission on the Employment of Women and Children in Agriculture, p. 58.
* Ibid., p. 110. See Mr. Tremenheere's Report for 1869.
* The Hon. Edward Stanhope, Assistant Commissioner, says of the cottages in Shropshire : "The point especially deserving of attention in this county is the infamous character of the cottages. In the majority of the parishes I visited they may be described as tumble-down and ruinous, not water-tight, very deficient in bedroom accommodations and in decent sanitary arrangemente."-Report on the Employment of Women and Children in Agriculture, 1868-9, p. xxxiv.