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longer have a motive to exercise an increased degree of moral restraint; and unless they did this, they would have but little chance of again emerging from their depressed condition. Under the circumstances supposed, the cost of raising and supporting laborers would be reduced; and it is by this cost that the natural or necessary wages, to which the market rate is generally proportioned, is always regulated. This lowering of the opinions of the laboring class with respect to the mode in which they should live, is perhaps the most serious of all the evils that can befall them. Let them once become contented with a lower species of food, and an inferior standard of comfort, and they may bid a long adieu to anything better. And every reduction in the rate of wages, which is not of a very transient description, will most likely have this effect, if its debasing influence be not countervailed by an increased prevalence of moral restraint, and a diminished increase of population, or by the opening of new markets, or the discovery of new and improved processes by which the cost of necessaries and conveniences may be reduced. Should any such reduction take place, the condition of the laborers may not be injuriously affected by the fall of wages; but if nothing of this kind occur, the laborers can only regain their former command over necessaries and conveniences by the exercise of additional economy and forethought.
The example of such individuals, or bodies of individuals, as submit quietly to have their wages reduced, and who are content if they get only mere necessaries, should never be held up for public imitation. On the contrary everything should be done to make such apathy be esteemed discreditable. The best interests of society require that the rate of wages should be elevated as high as possible-that a taste for comforts and enjoyments should be widely diffused, and, if possible, interwoven with national habits and prejudices. Very low wages, by rendering it impossible for increased exertions to obtain any considerable increase of advantages, effectually hinder them from being made, and are of all others the most powerful cause of that idleness and apathy that contents itself with what can barely continue animal existence.
WHY WAGES ARE UNEQUAL IN EMPLOYMENTS
CLASS OF PERSONS.
Laborers, including managers, professional people, artists, and so on, fall into a number of groups or strata between which there is little, if any, competition, because the workers of one group lack the particular natural endowments necessary to furnish the types of service produced by other groups. Between such groups or strata, therefore, inequality in wages is natural and inevitable. But that there should be inequalities within a given group, on a given stratum, is not quite so evident. Such, however, is the fact. Law, medicine, teaching, and so on, are all open to the competition of substantially the same classes of persons; yet the remunerations of workers of similar grade but in different ones of these professions are quite unequal. A like phenomenon displays itself between carpenters, bricklayers, shop-mechanics, et al. Some of the more important reasons for this are well brought out in the following much quoted passage from Adam Smith.
*The whole of the advantages and disadvantages of the different employments of labour and stock must, in the same neighborhood, be either perfectly equal or continually tending to equality. If in the same neighborhood there was any employment evidently either more or less advantageous than the rest, so many people would crowd into it in the one case, and so many would desert it in the other, that its advantages
* Adam Smith—Wealth of Nations. Book I, Chapter X.
would soon return to the level of other employments. This at least would be the case in a society where things were left to follow their natural course, where there was perfect liberty, and where every man was perfectly free both to choose what occupation he thought proper, and to change it as often as he thought proper. Every man's interest would prompt him to seek the advantageous, and to shun the disadvantageous employment.
Pecuniary wages and profit, indeed, are everywhere in Europe extremely different according to the different employments of labour and stock. But this difference arises partly from certain circumstances in the employments themselves, which, either really, or at least in the imaginations of men, make up for a small pecuniary gain in some, and counterbalance a great one in others; and partly from the policy of Europe, which nowhere leaves things at perfect liberty.
PART I-Inequalities arising from the Nature of the Employments themselves.
The five following are the principal circumstances which, so far as I have been able to observe, make up for a small pecuniary gain in some employments, and counterbalance a great one in others: first, the agreeableness or disagreeableness of the employments themselves; secondly, the easiness and cheapness, or the difficulty and expense of learning them; thirdly, the constancy or inconstancy of employment in them; fourthly, the small or great trust which must be reposed in those who exercise them; and fifthly, the probability or improbability of success in them.
First, The wages of labour vary with the ease or hardship, the cleanliness or dirtiness, the honourableness or dishonourableness of the employment. Thus in most places, take the year round, a journeyman tailor earns less than a journeyman weaver. His work is much easier. A journeyman blacksmith, though an artificer, seldom earns so much in twelve hours as a collier, who is only a labourer, does in eight. His work is not quite so dirty, is less dangerous, and is carried on in daylight and above ground. Honour makes a great part of the reward of all honourable profes
Disgrace has the contrary effect. The trade of a butcher is a brutal and an odious business; but it is in most places more profitable than the greater part of common trades.
Disagreeableness and disgrace affect the profits of stock in the same manner as the wages of labour. The keeper of an inn or tavern, who is never master of his own house, and who is exposed to the brutality of every drunkard, exercises neither a very agreeable nor a very creditable business. But there is scarce any common trade in which a small stock yields so great a profit.
Secondly, The wages of labour vary with the easiness and cheapness, or the difficulty and expense of learning the
When an expensive machine is erected, the extraordinary work to be performed by it before it is worn out, it must be expected, will replace the capital laid out upon it, with at least the ordinary profits. A man educated at the expense of much labour and time to any of those employments which require extraordinary dexterity and skill, may be compared to one of those expensive machines. The work which he learns to perform, it must be expected, over and above the usual wages of common labour, will replace to him the whole expense of his education, with at least the ordinary profits of an equally valuable capital. It must do this too in a reasonable time, regard being had to the very uncertain duration of human life, in the same manner as to the more certain duration of the machine.
The difference between the wages of skilled labour and those of common labour, is founded upon this principle.
Education in the ingenious arts and in the liberal professions, is still more tedious and expensive. The pecuniary recompense, therefore, of painters and sculptors, of lawyers and physicians, ought to be much more liberal: and it is so accordingly.
Thirdly, The wages of labour in different occupations vary with the constancy or inconstancy of employment. Employment is much more constant in some trades than in others. In the greater part of manufactures, a journey
man may be pretty sure of employment almost every day in the year that he is able to work. A mason or bricklayer, on the contrary, can work neither in hard frost nor in foul weather, and his employment at all other times depends upon the occasional calls of his customers. He is liable, in consequence, to be frequently without any. What he earns, therefore, while he is employed, must not only maintain him while he is idle, but make him some compensation for those anxious and desponding moments which the thought of so precarious a situation must sometimes occasion.
Fourthly, The wages of labour vary according to the small or great trust which must be reposed in the workmen. The wages of goldsmiths and jewellers are everywhere superior to those of many other workmen, not only of equal, but of much superior ingenuity, on account of the precious materials with which they are necessarily intrusted.
We trust our health to the physician; our fortune and sometimes our life and reputation to the lawyer and attorney. Such confidence could not safely be reposed in people of a very mean or low condition. Their reward must be such, therefore, as may give them that rank in the society which so important a trust requires. The long time and the great expense which must be laid out in their education, when combined with this circumstance, will necessarily enhance still further the price of their labour.
Fifthly, The wages of labour in different employments vary according to the probability or improbability of success in them.
The probability that any particular person shall ever be qualified for the employment to which he is educated, is very different in different occupations. In the greater part of mechanic trades success is almost certain, but very uncertain in the liberal professions. . . . In a perfectly fair lottery, those who draw the prizes ought to gain all that is lost by those who draw the blanks. In a profession where twenty fail for one that succeeds, that one ought to gain all that should have been gained by the unsuccessful twenty. The counsellor at law, who, perhaps, at near forty years