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cable to all cases in which groups of producers, excluded from reciprocal industrial competition, exchange their products. Such cases, as I have shown, occur in domestii trade, in the exchanges between those non-competing industrial groups of which I have spoken.” As applied to such groups, the law formulated by Mr. Mill would leave the average relative level of prices within each group to be determined by the reciprocal demand of the groups; or, to abandon technical language, we have the result of large groups, each of which is left to meet its industrial fate by itself, without sharing in the advantages of other groups, or contributing to their welfare out of its own abundance; a condition in which it can no longer be claimed that if one group be exceptionally prosperous, labor will flow into it from the outside, till the rate of wages therein is reduced to an assumed general average, and vice versa. What then, becomes of the Economic Harmonies, and of the assumption that the “ Laws of Trade” only need to be left to their unimpeded operation to bring out the best good of the whole industrial community?
Is this doctrine, bringing with it such vast consequences, true? I answer, there is, in my judgment, a great deal of truth in it, otherwise I should not be justified in having introduced it at such length; but that it will be finally accepted in the form in which Prof. Cairnes left it, I do not believe, though it is not unlikely that his statement, overstrained as it is, will compel the attention of economists to considerations of real importance heretofore overlooked, or avoided on account of their difficulty, more effectually even than a more measured statement would have done. Certainly after so emphatic an utterance, by an economist ing proportions—or, let us say, whatever be the state of relative prices -in different countries, which is requisite to secure this result, those exchanging proportions, that state of relative prices, will become normal-will furnish the central point toward which the fluctuations of international prices will gravitate.”—“Some Leading Principles, etc.” pp. 99, 100.
to distinguished, writers in economics can hardıy continue to assume a perfect freedom of movement on the part of labor, as between localities and occupations within any country, an assumption as mischievous as it is false.
Instead of asserting, as Prof. Cairnes has done, the prac tical isolation of certain great groups, with entire freedom of movement within these gronps, I believe that a fuller study of industrial society will establish the conviction that nowhere is mobility perfect, theoretically or even practically, and nowhere is there entire immobility of labor; that all classes and conditions of men are appreciably affected by the force of competition; but that, on the other hand, the force of competition, which nowhere becomes nil, even for practical purposes, ranges from a very high to a very low degree of efficiency, according to national temperament, according to peculiarities of personal character and circumstance, according to the laws and institutions of the community, and according to natural or geographical influences.
And first, briefly, of the assumed isolation of certain great groups, as of skilled or unskilled labor. Here Prof. Cairnes asserts that not only will adult laborers, once engaged in unskilled occupations, not go up into skilled occupations in any appreciable numbers; but that the transfer will not take place in the next generation, by the passing of the children of unskilled laborers into skilled occupations, to an extent which will practically affect, in any appreciable degree, the numbers of the class into which or out of which, snch children, if any, shall go.
It cannot be denied that there is a strong constraint, made up of both moral and physical forces, which keeps the vast majority of children not only within the great industrial group into which they were born, but even within the very trades which their fathers individually pursue. I shall have occasion hereafter to dwell on this as of great importance in the philosophy of wages. But that this constraint is so powerful and unremitting that those who escape are so few as not in any appreciable degree to relieve the class which they leave or to influence the class into which they thus enter, I must doubt. It is not so in the United States, in Canada, in Australia. I seriously doubt whether it is so in Germany, with its universal pri. mary instruction for the young and its admirable system of technical education. It surely is not so in Scotland.
If Prof. Cairnes' generalization remains sound for his own country, it is still true that the humblest English laborer has only to emigrate to the United States, as tens of thousands do every year, in order to place his children in a situation where they can pass into a higher industrial group, not by the display of “extraordinary energy, selfdenial and enterprise,” but by the exercise of ordinary social and industrial virtues.
On the other hand, how is it with the assumed freedom of movement within the industrial gronps which Prof. Cairnes has in view ? Let us recur to his own statement of the case. He does not claim that laborers who have once become engaged in any occupation are practically free to leave it for any other which may seem more remunerative. He admits, perhaps too fully if we have regard to the United States, Canada, and Australia, that the mass of laborers are held in their place and lot by a constraint from which it is practically beyond their power to escape. But he does claim that the rising generation of laborers furnishes a disposable force-a disposable fund, he terms it—which can be and will be directed freely within the great groups he defines, according “as remuneration may tempt, in various directions. The young persons composing this body, or others interested in their welfare, are eagerly watching the prospects of industry in its several branches, and will not be slow to turn towards the pursuits that promise the largest rewards."
* Some Leading Principles, etc., p. 69.
Now let it for the moment be granted that Prof. Cairnes' proposition is true to the full extent, how far does the mobility thus given to labor answer the requirements of the case? Reference to tables of vital statistics will show that the number of persons annually arriving at the age of twenty is from two and a half to three per cent of the population twenty years of age and upwards. This then is the extent of this “disposable fund.” Now in Chap. IV. we have sought to show how serious often is the evil effect upon those elements of character which go to make up the efficiency of labor, of even a brief failure of employment; how almost certainly extensive mischief results from “hard times” protracted through months and years ; how easily and quickly harm is done; how slowly and painfully industrial character is built up again. In view of such possibilities of disaster, always imminent from the very nature of modern industry, the question becomes one of great importance, whether this “disposable fund," which Prof. Cairnes adduces, is large enough for its purpose, whether it secures the needed mobility of labor. But before finally answering this inquiry, let us ask whether Prof. Cairnes is justified by the facts in assuming that the whole of the rising generation of laborers is thus disposable, “fulfilling the same function in relation to the general labor force of the country which capital, while yet existing as purchasing power, discharges in its relation to its general capital ?”
One would not lightly speak in terms of ridicule of any. thing which Prof. Cairnes has written; yet there is something ludicrous in the picture which his words suggest of a weaver, with half a dozen children and fifteen shillings a week, earnestly pondering the question, to which of the various trades of the group to which he belongs he shall devote the opening talents of his nine-year-old boy, now just able to earn three-pence a day in the mill; or of protracted and frequently adjourned family councils in which
poor Hodge, his wife and eldest daughter, discnss the industrial capabilities of the younger members of the family, and the comparative inducements of the several hundred manual occupatious recognized in the tables of the census. The picture is ludicrous only because the truth of the case is so pitifully the other way. We know that mill owners are harassed with applications from their hands to take chil. dren into employment on almost any terms, and that the cousciences of employers have required to be reinforced by the sternest prohibitions and penalties of the law to save children ten, seven, or four years old, from the horrors of “sweating dens” and crowded factories, since the more iniserable the parents' condition, the greater becomes the pressure on them to crowd their children somehow, somewhere, into service; the scantier the remuneration of their present employment, the less becomes their ability to secnre promising openings, or to obtain favor from outside for the better disposition of their offspring. Once in the mill, we know how little chance there is of the children afterwards taking up for themselves another way of life.
We know, too, that in the agricultural districts of England, gangs of children of all ages, from sixteen down to ten or even five years, have been formed, and driven from farm to farm, and from parish to parish, to work all day ander strange overseers, and to sleep at night in barns huddled all together, without distinction of sex. We know that the system of public gangs required an act of parliament ten years ago, to break it up, and we have the testimony of the commissioners of 1867, that, in spite of the law, it is still continued in some parts of the kingdom; while the system of private gangs,' only less shock
1“Even sometimes as many as eighty or one hundred may be taken from a neighboring town to one farm." Report of E. B. Portman, asst. comm'r.,-Employment of women and children, 1867-8, p. 95. “At present, parents solicit employers to take children into service ofton