The idea that an increase of wages involves a diminution of profits is a part of the same heresy which teaches that a fall of wages produces a rise of prices. To begin with, the capitalist is not concerned so much about the rate as he is the aggregate amount of profits he will receive. What he really wants is not so much a large proportion as a large actual amount of wealth; nor has the laborer, or the community so much interest in reducing the actual income of the manufacturer as they have in increasing their own. This can only be economically accomplished by increasing the aggregate consumption. Low wages make small consumption and a limited use of capital with slow methods of production inevitable, which, even at a high rate of profits, makes a large aggregate income impossible. For example: Suppose a manufacturer of shoes in order to live according to the accepted standard of his class was forced to charge a profit of ten cents a pair; and if by investing a large amount of capital and using improved machinery he could make the same shoes for one-third less, and be able to sell twice as many, he could reduce the price of the shoes to the consumer, and increase the wages of the laborer, and actually obtain more wealth per day for himself at five cents a pair than he has previously done With his small production at a profit of ten cents a pair. This, however, can only be possible when the aggregate demand for the shoes is increased. That is why the cotton manufacturer of today is actually richer with a profit of two cents a pound on cotton cloth than he was fifty years ago with a profit of more Than double that amount. Thus it is that the large production consequent upon the increased consumption of wealth by the masses makes all classes actually richer. By the increased aggregate production, the laborer can get more wealth through his higher wages, the general consumer can obtain more through lower prices, and the manufacturer while receiving a smaller per cent. of the total products actually obtains a greater quantity of wealth through the larger productions and extended business. This is exactly what has taken place throughout all the stages of industrial progress. It is a natural result of all the influences which tend to increase the market for products and make the concentration of capital in production possible.
We are therefore warranted in saying that the economic effects of a general reduction of the hours of labor would be to raise the standard of living and increase real wages; promote the concentration of capital; and the use of improved machinery; will cheapen production, lower prices, and while diminishing the rate, will increase the aggregate amounts of profits. Obviously, therefore, it would tend to improve the economic and social condition of the laborer and the consumer without injuring that of any other class.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Economic and Social Importance of the Eight-Hour Movement
"By the increased aggregate production, the laborer can get more wealth through his higher wages, the general consumer can obtain more through lower prices, and the manufacturer while receiving a smaller per cent. of the total products actually obtains a greater quantity of wealth through the larger productions and extended business."
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
"...the general consumer can obtain more through lower prices, and the manufacturer while receiving a smaller per cent. of the total products actually obtains a greater quantity of wealth through the larger productions and extended business....
More consumption? Of what? More production? Of what? How will things be produced? For whom? will they be made?
More, more, more, more. I don't want to hear any 'more'.
Who is this statement from? The tooth fairy? Why not 6 hours, 4 hours, or even zero hours. Why we would be swimming in the lap of luxury!
I can't remember if I said this before, but it occurred to me a while back that shorter working hours is the only sane way to fund the arts. Art is highly labor intensive and does not usually pay for itself. Only a handful of artists and writers make it in the marketplace.
Government and foundation support is nice, but not adequate and also biased. Someone decides if an artist is worth funding, and many good artists cannot get funding. Because artists can't make a living at art, they work day jobs, and these jobs cut deeply into the time they need for their art. Many artists give up. It's too hard to try and make a living and make art.
If we all worked a shorter work week -- 35 hours or 30 hours or 24 hours -- artists would have time for their art, and the the rest of us would have time for the things we want to do. And support for the arts would not require anyone to decide what gets funded. Everything would be funded.
This is obvious to the Sandwich Man, but I had to work it out.
I agree strongly with Eleanor's point. I would go so far as to say that we humans are, by our nature -- our "species being" -- artists. So, what "the rest of us" would do with the greater time we have would also be art.
I also sympathize with corowa's (Brenda?) objection to "more, more, more." What I've been posting here is George Gunton's analysis from the late 19th century. Part of that analysis, I would argue, is obsolete and part of it was always questionable. However, some of the basic arguments remain essential to a real alternative to the "folly of growth". I choose not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. What I recommend is a critical reception of the arguments rather than rejection by criticism.
Anonymous, look under your pillow! Those who live by the reductio ad absurdum sword shouldn't throw stones at their own glass houses. If one can produce more in 8 hours than in 6 hours, why not 16 or even 24 hours?
Who is this statement from?
The statement is from George Gunton's 1889 pamphlet, The Economic and Social Importance of the Eight-Hour Movement. It was one of three eight-hour pamphlets published by the American Federation of Labor, which were central to the early philosophy and strategy of that organization. "No student of American labor history," wrote Henry Mussey in 1927, "can fail to be struck with the extraordinary importance of the eight-hour issue in union thinking during the formative years of the American Federation of Labor." I have been serializing the analytical section of Gunton's pamphlet and will soon post a comprehensive point-form summary with links.
art is a consequence of sexual selection (advertizing by selfish genes in the market). because of the handicap principle, its costly signaling (transaction cost economics). the science of transhumanism, combined with the behavioral economics of 'mean genes', shows sexual selection is no longer neccesary, because the appropriate genetic combinations can be created in the lab (using my genesequence(TM?) technology, beginning with your DNA sequence. (We find this using a simpler shortcut---send your social security number and from that we we apply combinatorial recombination (following the word problem) to find your sequence). Since sexual selection is no longer neccesary, art is also unecessary, because it doesn't produce anything valuable, like financial derivatives and Tulips, TV shows and video games.
people who spend money on art should be viewed as stuck in a poverty trap, and artists seen as parasites. orchestras of financial instruments sound better than wagner.
Media's comment is so close to many serious comments I have read on the Internet, that I am tempted to answer it. But I won't. Though I wouldn't mind hearing an orchestra of financial instruments. This is a piece of music waiting to be written.
Post a Comment