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concerned; he surely knows whether he is well off or not; and if he feels himself wronged, he will seek a better employer. But how, I ask, is he to judge in advance, under such a system of combined truck and machine rents as oppressed the framework-knitters of England fifty years ago, whether his condition would be more tolerable under another master or in another place? Suppose him to have the rare intelligence and enter prise to ascertain the gross wages paid by other employers, perhaps in distant localities, and to find some more favorable than his own, how can he have the slightest assurance that greater severity in the administration of the system of stoppages and deductions, and greater greed in pursuing the profits of truck, might not make the difference, and perchance more than the difference, in nominal rates? He can not tell until he has tried, and how often would a workman, on such a narrow margin of living, and it may be with a fainily, be able to change employers and shift · his place in order to better his lot? How surely would he, after one or two bitter disappointments, relinquish the effort, and sink without a struggle into his miserable place, getting what wages he could, and taking for them what he might, at “the master's store.” The fact is, the system of truck and machine rents, as administered in England in the early part of the century, completely blindfolded the workman, and left him to grope about in search of his true interest, in peril of pitfalls and quagmires, or, as was most likely, to submit in sullen despair to every indignity and injury of the position in which he found himself.
Surely, then, we are entitled to say that laws in restraint of these practices differ from those other laws affecting labor which have been described in this chapter, in the one all-important particular, that the latter were intended to diminish that mobility by which laborers could seek their best market, while the former have the effect to make competition more easy and certain.
Is truck, then, always subject to economical censure ? I answer, No. Truck is a form of barter; and he would be a bold man who should say that barter is always and everywhere prejudicial. When truck arises naturally, is compatible with the general usages of exchange, and is maintained in good faith by common consent, it may not only be unobjectionable but highly advantageous to all classes.' When, however, truck is forced upon a body of impoverished and ignorant workmen against the general usages of exchange, and maintained by intimidation as the means of “sweating their wages, and keeping them down to the barest subsistence and under an incapacity to migrate, then truck becomes a horrid wrong and outrage. This varying aspect of truck, according to the circumstances and character of the community among which it is introduced, exemplifies the futility of setting up as economical principles what are in truth mere rules of expediency.
Thus, if barter be the general condition of exchanges in a new community, as it ordinarily is in the scarcity of currency, we may fairly say that it constitutes no special hardship to the laboring classes that they have to receive their wages in kind. Doubtless, in the further development of society and industry, the introduction of money payments in such a community will prove a real and great industrial advantage to all classes. Doubtless, also, the wages class, as presumably the poorest class, and that, also, the members of which have least time and opportunity for rendering the commodities they may chance to receive in payment, into the commodities they desire to consume, would be most helped by such an advance.
" M. Ducarre's report notices with approbation the attempt of the Orleans Railway Company to supply their 14,000 employees with food and clothing. The results seem to show that the workmen thus obtained their supplies thirty per cent cheaper than they could have done at the shops. There is no reason why such enterprises should not be carried out to a much greater extent, to the highest advantage of employers and workmen, and with general consent.
Yet, prior to that consummation, the wages class, or the economist speaking for them, could scarcely make complaint that they were obliged to share in the general in. convenience, even though, from their industrial position, they might feel it more severely than others; or demand that exemption from truck be secured them by law. Indeed, in such a general condition of exchange, it is quite conceivable that a class which should be enabled to enforce money payments to itself might thus secure an un. due advantage which would be resented by others as obtained at their expense. An amusing illustration of this is furnished by Gov. Winthrop in his History of New-Eng. land, as follows:
“One Richard — , servant to one — Williams, of Dorchester, being come out of service, fell to work at his own hand, and took great wages above others, and would not work but for ready money. By this means, in a year or a little more, he had scraped together about twenty
five pounds, and then returned, with his prey, into Eng. · land, speaking evil of the country by the way," etc., etc.
(Vol. ii. 98, 99.) The good governor notes with apparent gusto the fact that he was met by the cavaliers and eased of his money-his prey-on his arrival.
But if we come, now, to consider a state of industrial society in which exchanges are generally effected through the use of money, and inquire as to the results to a single class of the community of being reduced, through some force operating upon them when in a position of disadvantage, to accept payment for their services in commodities' instead of currency, those, at least, who discard the
* Clearly the evil, if there is any evil in the system, will be somewhat according to the variety of the articles thus forced upon the la. borer. The greater that variety the greater his disadvantage. One of the arguments against abolishing or abating agricultural truck has been that the arrangement was generally restricted to “one, two, or three distinct things.”—Testimony of Mr. Tremenhecre before the Committee of 1854. Report, p. 102.
theory of diffusion can easily see that wrong amounting to robbery might be wrought by this means. To deny to one class the advantage they would naturally derive from the introduction of a universal “standard of value and inedium of exchange,” while allowing it to the classes with which that single class is to compete for the possession of wealth, would be not unlike prohibiting to one merchant the use of the railway, and sending himn back to the stage-coach, while his competitors were permitted to use the telegraph and the steam-car. So long as the coach was common to all, none had equitable cause of complaint of the want of a better means of transportation. The hardship, such as it was, lay in the constitution of things. When the steam-car and telegraph came, they did not benefit all alike; on the contrary, they tended to inequality ;' to make the great greater, the small, by comparison at least, smaller, yet no one could rightfully charge blame in that he received less than others of the great addition to human well-being. It would be quite another thing, however, were one individual or class to be prohibited from participating, in his measure, in what should be the gain of all. This would be ground for complaint; this would be gross, palpable injustice. And such a wrong was that truck against which the statute of 1st and 2d William IV. was levelled. Truck prevailed, not because it consisted with the general system of exchange in the country at the time, not because it was for the convenience of both parties, not from any scarcity of currency to allow cash payments, but, in the vast majority of instances, it had been forced’ upon the working classes simply and solely because it enabled the employers to add the profits of trade to the profits of manufacture; because it kept the laborers always poor and in debt, and diminished the ease, or practically destroyed the possibility, of migration.
"The effects of railways in taking the life out of small country towns, and drawing trade and manufactures to junctions and termini, are too familiar to need illustration.
9 In some cases even the pretence of adapting the commodities, in which the laborer was paid, to his wants was abandoned, and the la. borer was paid in whatever was most convenient to the employer. Eviilence was given before the Committee of 1854 that workmen were