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EQUALITY OF REMUNERATION.
Similarity of Wages and Profits-Circumstances influencing Remuneration of Employments-Agreeableness or Disagreeableness of Trades-Trades requiring long Apprenticeships or high Premiums-High Profits of Chemists and Apothecaries, more properly Wages-Profits of Country Shopkeepers -Effects of Inconstancy of Employment-Trust reposed in Physicians and Attorneys-Wagesvary with chance of Success in Employments-Gains of Literary and Professional MenInadequate Pay of Soldiers and Sailors-Motives to a Naval and Military Life-Effects of Long Apprenticeships, the Poor-laws, and Immunities of Corporations on Freedom of Industry—Combinations of Trades, like Monopolies.
THE payment of wages, being the direct exchange, without the intervention of a third instrument, of money for labour, assimilates to the ancient practice of barter.
Commodities are the joint produce of capital and labour, and the profit of the capitalist and the wages of the labourer are the respective rewards of their co-operative agency, the only difference being, that wages are the recompence of present, and profit of anterior industry.
As the labourer does not live upon money, but on the necessaries money will buy, it follows, that wages are high or low, not according to their nominal or money amount, but according to the amount
of provisions they will purchase; in other words, according to the command they give the labourer over the food, clothing, and lodging, conducive to his comfort and maintenance.
The different rates of wages, as well as of profits in employments, are more apparent than real: for it will mostly be found where industry is free and not subject to artificial regulation, that if a high remuneration is derived from any trade or profession, it results from the greater ability it requires, or from the greater risk or other countervailing incident which accompanies its exercise. This necessarily results from the desire of all men to obtain the best and easiest reward for their exertions.
any occupation where the gains were disproportionate, and not balanced by any disadvantage, persons would crowd into that channel of employment, so as by their competition to reduce it to the common level of emolument.
The circumstances which cause the recompence employments to rise above or fall below the common level are stated by Adam Smith to be the five following 1. The agreeableness and disagreeableness of the employments themselves. 2. The easiness or cheapness, or the difficulty and expense of learning them. 3. The constancy or inconstancy of the employments. 4. The small or great trust which must be reposed in those who follow them. 5. The probability or improbability of succeeding in them.
1. The agreeableness of an employment may arise from the lightness of the labour, its healthiness,
cleanliness, or the estimation in which it is held; and its disagreeableness from circumstances of an opposite character. Wages being equal, persons would obviously be determined in the choice of an occupation by its other advantages. The labour of a ploughman is more severe than that of a shepherd, and is uniformly better rewarded. A compositor employed on a daily newspaper, often working in the night, is better paid than one employed in book-printing. Miners, gilders, type-founders, smiths, distillers, and all who carry on unhealthy and dangerous trades, obtain higher wages than those who are equal in skill, but engaged in more desirable employments. The trades of a butcher, brickmaker, coalheaver, and sugar-boiler, are disagreeable, and accordingly compensated with higher wages. The employment of public executioner is detestable, and in consequence better paid than any other, in proportion to the work done. Agreeableness and the popular estimation of many pursuits constitute a considerable part of their remuneration. Thus hunting and fishing are to many a pastime, and, therefore, make very unprofitable trades. The emoluments of private secretaries and public librarians are seldom considerable, they are chiefly paid in the respectability and pleasantness of their occupation. Smuggling and poaching have singular fascinations to some minds, and the opportunities they afford for the indulgence of an adventurous spirit form their chief recompence: for those who pursue those illicit callings are proverbially poor. The
cheerfulness and healthiness of the employments, rather than the lightness of the labour, or the little skill they require, seem to be the principal cause of the redundant numbers, and consequent low wages, of common farm-servants, and generally of all workmen employed in ordinary field-labour. The emoluments of ministers of religion, professors of the sciences, schoolmasters, tutors, and officers in the army and navy are not proportioned to the expense of their education; and they are chiefly rewarded by the popularity and honourableness of their engagements.
Disagreeableness and discredit affect the profits of capital in the same manner as the wages of labour. The keeper of a small inn, alehouse, or spirit-shop, who can hardly be said to be master of his own house, and exposed to the intrusion of every drunk-ard, exercises neither a very agreeable nor creditable business; but there is scarce any common trade in which a small stock yields so great a profit.
2. Arts and trades that are difficult to learn, and a knowledge of which can only be attained by serving long apprenticeships, or the payment of high premiums, are usually well remunerated.
Wages are a compensation paid to the labourer, or artisan, for the exertion of his physical powers, or of his skill or ingenuity. They necessarily, therefore, vary with the severity of the labour or the ability required. A jeweller, or engraver, for example, must be paid higher wages than a common servant, or scavenger: a long course of training is
requisite to instruct a man in the business of jewelling and engraving; and were he not indemnified for the cost of the training by higher wages, he would, instead of learning so difficult an art, addict himself to such employments as hardly require any instruction. It is the same with other pursuits and professions; the cost of acquirement must be repaid by future practice therein, otherwise the parties would be out of pocket, like a person setting up a new machine, the saving and gain of which do not repay the outlay in its erection. The pecuniary recompence of physicians, lawyers, sculptors, and painters, is not so exorbitant as is sometimes imagined a fortune is almost spent in acquiring the knowledge necessary to their occupations, which ought in fairness to be made up to them by the liberality of their fees and emoluments.
The profits of capital in certain employments are liable to similar misapprehension as wages in the higher branches of industry. The profits of chemists, druggists, and apothecaries, are mostly considered extravagant. Their gains, however, are frequently only a just remuneration for skill and labour. They are almost invariably the medical advisers of the poor, and not unfrequently of the rich. Their rewards, therefore, ought to be proportioned to their services, and these arise generally from the prices at which they sell their commodities: but the prime cost of all the commodities retailed by a wellemployed chemist, or apothecary, in the course of a year, may not exceed fifty pounds. Though he