Зображення сторінки

But if the laborers are to be paid at different rates, who, I ask again, is to determine the proportions in which the product shall be divided ? How is general consent to be obtained to a scheme which must condemn the great majority to receive but a contemptible fraction of their proportional share? Without general consent, what chance of harmonious action? But if we suppose the scale of distribution to be fixed, who is to assign the personnel of the association to their several categories, to say that this man shall go into one class, and that man, who thinks quite as well of himself, shall go into a lower class ? Is there not here the occasion, almost the provocation, of disputes and bad blood highly dangerous to such an enterprise ?

I have no desire to multiply objections to this system or to magnify the scope of those that offer themselves to view. Heartily do I wish that workingmen might be found rising more and more to the demands which coöperation makes upon them; but I entertain no great expectations of success in this direction. The reduction of profits through increasing intelligence, sobriety and frugality on the part of the wages class, securing them a prompt, casy and sure resort to the best market, is the most hopeful path of progress for the immediate future. There are of course some departments of industry where the services of the entrepreneur can be more easily dispensed with, than in others. Here coöperation under good auspices may achieve no doubtful success.

It would appear that if coöperation could be intro. duced anywhere, it would be in agriculture : yet in no

ranged from 412d. to 6s. If the workmen who were capable of doing the higher parts of the work (pointing, whitening, etc.) were to be put to making the whole pin, through all the ten processes described, the cost of the pins would be three and three-quarter times as great ag under the application of the division of labor, with payments to each workman according to bis capacity.

department of production have the experiments tried proved less satisfactory. One reason which, in addition to those already enumerated, will probably always serve to delay the extension of the coöperative system in this direction, is the great difficulty of determining the actual profits of a year or a term of years, with reference, as is essential, to the value of unexhausted improvements. So long as the coöperators hold together and divide the yearly produce, all goes well; but if at any time one desires to withdraw, and men will not enter into associations of this character without the right of retiring, at pleasure, with. out forfeiture, the question of undivided profits becomes of the most serious importance. To settle it with absolute justice is simply impossible, and no method of arriving roughly at a result of substantial justice, is likely to avoid deep dissatisfaction and sense of wrong.

* An apparently successful experiment in this direction obtains notice in Prof. Fawcett’s Pol. Econ., pp. 292-3, note.

* Perhaps the difficulty of the problem will be best outlined, to those who are not familiar with this special subject of undivided profits, or "unexhausted improvements," in agriculture, by present. ing the following classification of tenants' expenditures on the soil, which was embraced in the Duke of Richmond's Bill of 1875. That bill divided improvements into three categories ; permanent, wasting and temporary. In the first class were included reclaiming, warping, draining, making or improving watercourses, ponds, etc., roads, fences, buildings, and the planting of orchards and gardens. With respect to these, it was proposed that an outgoing tenant should be allowed compensation for the unexhausted value of such of them ag he might have made within 20 years of the termination of his tenancy with the written consent of his landlord. The second class included liming, claying, chalking, marling, boring, clay-burning, and planting hops, and it was proposed that the tenant should be able to claim for these processes, if done within seven years of the end of his tenancy, Do consent being necessary. So also with respect to the third classconsuming by cattle, sheep, or pigs, of corn, cake, or other feeding stuffs, or using artificial manures—where, however, a claim could not go back beyond two years.

The difficulties of industrial coöperation have been so manifest that schemes have been suggested for avoiding them in great part, by methods which should sacrifice a proportionally sınaller part of the advantages looked for from coöperation. Among these schemes, one, which seems to have been first definitely brought forward by Mr. Babbage,' has been tried upon a considerable scale. By this plan, which may be called one of partial coöperation, the employer is induced to adinit his workmen to a participation to a certain extent in the profits of manufacture, while himself retaining the full authority and responsibility of the entrepreneur. By this plan the employer might fairly hope to attach his workmen to himself by more than the slight tie of daily or monthly employment, and to interest thern so directly in the production of the establishment, as to secure a greater activity in labor and more carefulness in avoiding waste. The resulting advantages to the workmen would clearly be both moral and economical. There is qnite a body of literature relating to the experiments in this direction, of MM. Leclaire, Dupont, Gisquet, and Lemaire, in France; of the Messrs. Briggs, owners of extensive collieries and others in England; 3 of a few manufacturers in a small way in Switzerland,4 of M. Cini, an extensive paper manufacturer of Tuscany, and the Messrs.

In Mr. Babbage's admirable little work on “the Economy of Man. ufactures," published in 1832, a plan of industrial organization is proposed on the idea that "a considerable part of the wages received by each person employed should depend on the profits made by the establishment." (pp. 249-50.)

'J. S. Mill, Pol. Econ., ii. 335-7.

• Thornton “On Labor,” pp. 369-84–McDonnell's Survey of Pol Econ. 220–1.

• Report of Mr. Gould on the condition of the industrial classes 1872, p. 355.

• Report of Mr. Herries on the condition of the industrial classes of Italy. 1871 p. 234-5.

Brewster, carriage manufacturers, of Broome st., New York. That something of the sort is practicable, with the exercise of no more of patience, pains and mutual good faith than it is reasonable to expect of many employers and many bodies of workmen, I am greatly disposed to believe. Many experiments, and probably much disappointment and some failures, will be required to develop the possibilities of this scheme, and determine its best working shape, yet in the end I see no reason to doubt that such a relation will be introduced extensively with the most beneficial results.

The objections which have been shown to exist to productive coöperation do not apply with anything like equal force to distributive coöperation, so-called (but which could more properly be termed consumptive coöperation), that is, the supplying of the wages class with the necessa

The proposal of the Messrs. Brewster was most honorable at once to the good feeling and to the sagacity of the members of the firm, especially Mr. J. W. Britton, with whom the enterprise originated. The firm offered to divide ten per cent of their net profits among their employees, in proportion to the wages severally earned by them, no charge to be made by the members of the firm for their services prior to this deduction of ten per cent, or for interest on the capital invested; the business of each year to stand by itself, and be independ. ent of that of any other year. This handsome proposal was accepted by the employees, and an association formed. The plan worked to the satisfaction of all parties, as high as $11,000 a year being divided among the hands : but at the great strike of the trades in New York three years ago, the workmen of this establishment were carried away by the general excitement, and the strong pressure brought to bear upon them from the outside; and the scheme was abandoned. So long as it worked, it worked well; and showed that the plan had no financial or industrial weaknesses. The failure was at the point of patience, forbearance and faith, a very important point; but may not masters and men be educated up to this requirement, in view of the great advantages to result ?

ries of life through agencies established and supported by themselves.

By productive cooperation, workmen seek to increase their incomes.

By distributive or consumptive coöperation, they seek to expend their incomes to better advantage. They no longer seek to divide among themselves the profits of manufacture, but the profits of retail ? and perhaps even of wholesale trade.

The advantages of this species of coöperation are:

First: the division among the coöperators of the ordi. nary net profits of the retail trade.

Second: the saving of all expenses in the line of advertising, whether in the way of printing and bill posting, or of the decoration of stores with gilding and frescoing, with costly counters, shelves, and show cases, with plate glass windows and elaborate lighting apparatus, or of high rents paid on account of superior location. The aggregate saving on these accounts is very large. The “union” store may be on a back street, with the simplest arrangements, yet the associates will be certain to go to it for their supplies, without invitation through newspapers or posters.

Third : a great reduction in the expenses of handling and dealing out goods. The retail trader must be prepared at all times to serve the public, and he does not dare to greatly delay one while serving another, lest he should drive custom to a rival shop. He is therefore

· For remarks of Messrs. Mill and Cairnes respecting the “excessive friction," and consequent undue profits and expenses of retail trade, the reader is referred to page 313-5.

• Very recently the coöperative societies of England bave decided on a new and far reaching step, and have undertaken the importation of foreign supplies required for their numerous stores and shops. This step evidently involves a very large addition of responsibility and risk, without, as I should apprehend, a proportional gain in the event of success.

« НазадПродовжити »