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By the CHAIRMAN:
Q. And you said just now there would be no desire to accumulate they would not accumulate it 1-A. No, sir.
Q. What would they do with it?-A. I have no doubt if the people had more money to-day they would know what to do with it.
Q. Bat they would not accumulate it?-A. No, sir; there are plenty of necessaries of life we cannot buy to-day. It would take years to supply the people with the necessities of life.
Q. Is it not for the interest of society that property should be accumulated ?-A. No, sir.
Q. Then you would abolish property ?-A. It ought to be abolished. Q. You would have no accumulation by any one ?-A. Not privately; everything belongs to tbe government.
Q. Then you would have everything belong to the community, but you would pay some men more than other men because they earn more?ŁA. Yes, sir.
Q. If they earned more and had more, would they not have a larger interest in this accumulation than the men that didn't earn as much ?-A. No, sir.
Q. What is the meaning of having more or less, except that one man has more of the property than the other man?-X. Why should he not? Q. You say he should not :-A. We know the wants of people are not alike.
By Mr. RICE: Q. Suppose a man gets $10,000 a year, and he earns tbat according to the rule which is established in your system, and suppose he does not want to spend but $4,000 of it, what will he do with the other $6,000 ?-A. He can turn it over to the society.
Q. Is it any object to him to earn more than the otber man that does not earn but $1,000?
(The witness here sat down without answering the question, and stated that Mr. Isaac Bennett would now address the committee.)
VIEWS OF MR. ISAAC BENNETT.
Isaac BENNETT appeared and wade the following statement:
By the CHAIRMAN: Question. You represent the same delegation as the last witness ?--Answer. I do; I represent the same body.
Q. What is your business ?-A. My business is cigar making.
Q. Now, sir, proceed.-A. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen : We are glad and happy to meet your honorable body, so that we may be able to explain the real road that we are traveling, and what we desire. It is true, gentlemen, that you may have been, through the public press, informed that there is such a party in existence, but allow me to assure you that the public press, althougb you may think they have done their daty, have wronged us greatly by showing to the people, and to you gentlemen, at large, that we are a party of destroyers. We are willing to prove that we are not a party of destroyers, but a party of progress and a party of industry. For that very purpose we are happy to have a bearing before you. As the speaker previous to me has said, we do not represent a single branch, but the laboring classes at large.
Q. You represent a delegation bere ?-A. I do.
Q. Your predecessor says he represents a body composed of 1,400 or 1,500 individuals. Is that what you say when you say you represent the laboring classes --A. To answer your question it is also necessary to explain.
Q. Do you represent anybody by any credentials more than the 1,300 or 1,400 men ? A. No, sir; but when we say that we represent the people, we find it our duty to educate the people; to make the people think ; to show the people why they are in such a condition as they are in at the present time, where the great evil lies. The man that suffers is the only one that knows where the great evil lies, and he is the only one that can understand where the remedy is. A question has been asked whether or not the middle classes are the greatest injury to the present system. I would auswer no; because, if we look into the condition of affairs now, we would find out that the middle classes are composed of persons who, when the country was in prosperity, when trade was flush, did not use the amount of money they earned, but saved it, and with their savings went into what they call a little business, in manufacturing and in purchasing and selling again. But we find also tbat those so-called middle classes are going aside, and who is the party that drives them aside? Not the laboring classes ; it is certainly the man that is in possession of a greater capital, the man that controls the market, and that man is not only an injury to the laboring classes, but he is also an injury to trade and commerce at large.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee is not here for the purpose of hearing general declamation. We want to know the cause of the existing depression of labor. We know it exists; we want to get at the remedies. If you will state distinctly wbat you tbink the causes of the present depression, and then suggest the remedies you have to offer, the committee will be obliged to you.
Mr. BENNETT. We find that as machinery is in existence, and is improved every day, throws manual labor on our highways and by ways. We find that we have to-day millions of men unemployed.
Q. How many millions?-A. Well, we are satisfied there are one or two millions, or more than that, that are constantly idle, working for a month, and some working for two months at a time, and some working for a week, and so on. Then a man is thrown out, and another man that offers his services for less is put in his place.
Q. I understand you to say that the cause of the present distress is that there are millions of men unemployed ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Tell me what causes them to be unemployed 1-A. The first cause that causes them to be unemployed is machinery.
Q. How does machinery prevent their employment ?-A. By being greater pro
Q. Didn't the machinery exist between 1862 and 1873 all over the world, and all over tbis country, and was there not then plenty of employment ?-A. Yes, sir; there was.
Q. What causes machinery so suddenly to cause the non-employment of these millions of men 1-A. That which we call at the present time overproduction. The machines bave produced more than has been consumed all along, and then we find that the market is overstocked. We find, at the same time, that in those years every one was able, as I said before, to earn a living ; to receive a job and make good wages; but as times became worse
Q. What made them worse?-A. The system of production of overproduction. As those articles which were produced could not be consumed at the very same time, there must certainly have been a surplus of labor in the market.
Q. Do I understand you to say that the world has got more of everything in it than the world wants !-A. Most positively it has.
Q. Are there more shoes than people who want shoes ?-A. No, sir; there is not, bat the people cannot buy them.
Q. Is there more wheat, and pork, and clothes, and the necessaries of life, than the people want !-A. There may be a little, but not much.
Q. Has there been at any time 1-A. Yes, sir.
Q. When was there this surplus more than the people wanted !-A. It is proven every day.
Q. A gentleman said yesterday he wanted a pair of shoes, and he said he conld not get them I-A. Yes, sir. There are not more shoes; there are not more clothes ; tbere is notbing of anything more than we need, but we have not the means to buy them with.
Q. But you bad the means from 1868 to 1873, and yon have not had them since 1873; what is the cause of tbat change 1-A. That is wbat I am coming to, if you will only give me a chance. We are willing to prove that the laboring classes, by being thrown out, can certainly not be consumers at the same time to any great extent. They were not producers, so they could not be consumers, but still they did consume. They deprived themselves of wbat really they ought not to. As those parties were pot consumers to that extent that they ought to be, there was certainly a great surplus of labor in the market, because it was not bought, and then the surplus of labor was always beaped up to a great extent. The manufacturers were then compelled to reduce their army of laboring classes. Again, we will say that the first year there was only an army of, may be, ten thousand thrown out of employment, because there was more stock in the market than was needed. The second year those ten thousand grew up to fifteen thousand, maybe, and so it increased. The manufacturers, having too much stock on band, wanted to decrease the army they employed. When they fonnd that would not do, when they found their stock still increased, then the competition commenced. The manufacturer was compelled, as he said, to reduce the wages of his laboring classes. When a man received $12 a week he consumed $12 a week, but when his wages were reduced to $10 a week, he had to consume only $10 worth.
Q. Didn't the prices fall 1-A. They did.
Q. Would not $10 buy as much as $127-A. If he was to make it a regular scale of wages the whole year through he could get along, but you must take into consideration these $10 were not the regular wages the whole year through ; tbey were only for the time being that they were employed. There may have been men that received $10 for their wages when they were employed, but when we take into consideration that those very men only received $10 for their wages, and that they were only working five, six, or seven months in the year, then their wages did not amount to more than, maybe, $5 or $6 a week. We could not say they earned $10; we could only say they earned $10 when employed.
Q. Is machinery the cause ?-A. Machinery is the cause, and it is at the present time.
Q. What would you do with machinery in order to remedy this thing; would you destroy tbe machinery!-A. Machinery is a blessing to bumanity. Machinery is Deeded. We cannot produce as much as the human race really is in need of without machinery. But we claim that machinery under the present system is wrong, because machinery lies in the hands of the non-producers, and the real producers, by the aid of Inachinery, are deprived of their rights.
Q. What do you mean by a producer and a non-producer ?-A. A producer is a man that labors.
Q. What do you mean by a non-producer?--A. A non-producer is a man that lives upon the labor of others.
Q. Here is this committee. We are getting a salary from the people for attending to certain services. Do you consider us laborers or not laborers, producers or non-producers 1-A. We consider you a class of laborers which is necessary for the human race, bat no producers.
Q. We are not producers ?--A. No, sir.
Q. Suppose you abolish the government and get rid of us, what would be the result then !-A. That is a thing we do not wish to do. The people must be ruled, and there must be a government to rule the people.
Q. Do we not contribute as much to the earnings of society by laboring in this particular sphere as other people by working with their hands?-A. We admit you do.
Q. Are we not producers in the sense of enabling greater production to take place in other quarters ?-A. No, sir.
Q. The man that walks around the shop and tells the laborer what to do and never touches anything, is he a producer 1-A. He is the servant of the man that engages him to do that service.
Q. Is he a producer :-A. Such men must be in society.
Q. Is be a producer or a non-producer, açccording to your definition ?-A. He holds a functionary position in society.
Q. Is be a producer 7-A. He is not a producer.
Q. Then your definition of a producer is the man that actually labors, and no one else 1--A. Exactly.
Q. Have the people who do not labor any value in society ?-A. They have, most undoubtedly.
Q. Ought they to be paid ?–A. Yes, sir.
Q. Ought they to be paid at any different rate from others ?-A. According to their abilities.
Q. When a man is a good workman, and he has a good organizing mind, they make a foreman ont of him, do they not!-A. Yes, sir.
Q. And if he is a good foreman, he generally gets to be an employer by and by ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. When he gets to be an employer, he gets to be a capitalist ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Then when he reaches that class, you object to him having any pay for it 1-A. What we claim is that there is a class which calls themselves employers deriving a greater benefit out of labor than the man that really labors for it.
Q. But you said just now that the foreman should get more than the workman ?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. Then the employer is a bigger man than the foreman? He gets to that position because he can do a higher class of work.-A. We claim there is no necessity for such positions in society.
Q. Who would employ the people, then ?-A. The people claim that their employment could be by a co-operative system. This is our aim.
Q. Do you mean to say you would become partners in a general common interest ?A. Yes, sir.
Q. Would you have this partnership controlled by the government ?-A. Yes, sir; to some extent.
Q. To wbat extent ?-A. That they may oversee the business of the co-operative system as well as they oversee pow the regulation of revenue.
Q. Would you bave them fix the rate of wages ?-A. No, sir.
Q. Would you have any wages in the co-operative system ?-A. We would fix that ourselves.
Q. Would the government fix the prices of produce?--A. No, sir.
Q. How would you preveut one co-operative society from selling at less rates than another co-operative society !-A. We find that we are already in that system of underselling. We undersell our neighbor, for we are compelled to, but wben the laboring classes are enlightened by the benefit that the co-operative system will have, there will be a regulation among themselves for the benefit of themselves that they will not undersell each other.
Q. Is there anything to prevent the formation of a co-operative society in cigar-making in New York -A. The present system prevents them from doing so.
Q. Why could you not make a co-operative society 1--A. Because we have not the means. Q. Then you want capital ?-A. Most undoubtedly.
By Mr. RICE: Q. Supposing you were going to have a co-operative association; and supposing some of your cigar manufacturers wouldn't want to go into it. How would you get them in lA. That is a question of time.
Q. You say you want to have the cigar business done by a co-operative association in New York. Suppose any proportion of the cigar-makers of New York didn't want to go into that co-operative association when it is formed, how would you get them in 1-A. They would be willing to go into it; but under the present condition they are not.
Q. Would they all be willing to go into it :-A. They would.
Q. Why don't you form it ! -A. Because we have not the means to do so; we bave got to have something to fall back on. We want the means of establishing a business and purchasing raw material, and of living and putting the goods on the market.
Q. Have you not got means enough to make cigars now ?-A. No, sir.
Q. Have not the cigar-makers of New York means enough to make their cigars ?-A. Some small parties have.
Q. If they go into a pool, then there will be means enough ?-A. There will pot.
Q. How are you going to get men in afterwards if they won't go in now !--A. By first showing the people at large how to labor, and what to labor for.
Q. Can you not do that now ?-A. We are trying to do it. We claim that under the present system the co-operative system is impossible.
Q. What will make it possible in your opinion ?-A. The abolition of private capital and machinery would make it, for the first thing, possible for all trades to go into the co-operative system.
Q: The abolition of private capital and macbinery?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Who is going to abolish it?-A. It is for the government to do it for the welfare of the people.
Q. Is it your idea of a republican or democratic government that it could or would have a right to abolish private capital and machinery? Would that not make the worst despotism that ever existed-worse than your German empire or any other that exists—to give a government that power?-A. It is at the disposition of the States whether they are willing to do so or not. We don't claim tbat the government has a right to do it; but we claim when the people demand it, who are the government, and if it is the people's desire, such laws should be passed. We know that we demand at the present time too much. We come before your honorable body to show some way by which this great evil can be remedied, and the first thing we claim is, that as there is a great army of unemployed men in the market who find it impossible to find employment, there must be something done to find employment for them.
By the CHAIRMAN: Q. What do you recommend ?-A. We recommend the reduction of the hours of labor from ten to eight hours a day, for the first thing. We find it necessary to reduce the hours of labor.
Q. What else do you recommend !-A. We recommend compulsory school education, up to fourteen years.
Q. What else ?-A. We recommend the regulation of woman's labor.
Q. To prevent them from laboring 1-A. To regulate it and not prevent it. We regard it as the duty of the busband to be able to make a living for his wife and family.
Q. Suppose a woman bas not a husband ?-A. Then she is able to work.
Q. Then widows are to be permitted to work, but not the wives ?-A. If they have no supporter, then they have a right to labor.
Q. But not the wives of the working men ?-A. No; not the wives, just as we recom. mend that all children under fourteen years of age shall not labor. We also recomniend that a husband who has a wife shall be able to make a living for his family.
Q. If he is sick ?-A. The people at large are good natured enough to see that the family don't want. We also recommend that women who labor as well as men, doing the same kind of work, they shall receive equal wages with men.
Q. Whether they do the same quantity of work or not?-A. The employer will be the map to say what wages they should receive, what wages they will be able to make. What we mean is, when they work by piece-work they will make their wages the same as they do at the present time.
Q. Suppose the women work in some branch of business that men do not work in, how would yon regulate that, where the women had the trade to themselves 1--A. Í goppose you have reference to millinery and lady clerks, &c.
Q. Yes.-A. I suppose that the trade will regulate itself; if we will be able to earn decent wages, they will receive decent wages.
Q. Take shirt-makers, who I am told are making shirts for a very few cents apiece. That regulates itself. Do you think that is a proper state of things ?- A. There is too much competition in that line of business.
Q. How are you going to get rid of the competition !-A. By reducing the hours of labor.
Q. Then yon are going to forbid women working more than a certain number of hours a day :-A. Women and men.
Q. These women live in their own houses ; how are you going to get in there to prevent them from making shirts ten hours a day Suppose the wages for a woman for working six bours is 75 cents, and that that woman has two children, and finds that that is enough to support herself and two children; another woman has six or eight children, and she wants to feed her children. Is she to be prevented from working ten hours a day, and doing enough work to feed her children ?-A. I think everybody is at liberty to labor according to the present system.
Q. You say to us, “Go back to Congress and tell your fellow-Représentatives to pass a law restricting the hours of labor." That must be a general law. How are you going to deal with this case? Are the extra children of that woman to be allowed to starve?-A. I think that if a woman has got a large family
Q. She ongbt to be allowed to work extra l-A. Far from this; but I think she will be able to earn more in eight hours than she earns now if she works fifteen hours.
By Mr. THOMPSON : Q. If you reduce the hours of labor from ten to eight will the manufacturer pay yon the same wages tbat you get now 1-A. It has always been shown that the longer we work the less we get for our labor.
Q. Would you reduce the wages proportionate to the time you work, or would you keep the wages as they are l-A. This will certainly throw a demand for the laboring classes into the market again.
Q. If you reduce the time of labor 25 per cent. won't you have to pay an increase of 25 per cent. for tbe other labor you wish to buy, the shoes and coats and anything else i A. That may be the case in some instances.
Q. Tben what advantage is it to me or to you if we work Jess hours a day, but pay more for what we get, and get no more money to pay it with !-A. I think the market Would then regalate itself more than it does now. We don't receive a quarter of wbat we earn, but under the present system of buying the workman is charged just as inuch or equally as much as when he made good wages.
Q. Why not reduce the bours of labor to six instead of eight :-A. We find it is not necessary at the present time.
Q. Not necessary, bow -A. We find if we were to reduce them from ten to eight there would be sufficient work left to employ those unemployed.
By Mr. Boyd: Q. Wbat, in your opinion, would be the actnal effect on wages if you reduced the number of working hours from ten to eight?-A. That there would not be a great army of unemployed men in the market ; that we would not have to compete with ebildren's labor, and that the employer would be willing to pay his employé decent and respectable wages by which he can make a living.
Q. You think the reduction to eight hours a day would increase wages 1-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Would it not still increase wages if you reduced it to six hours !-A. That is a question we cannot answer. We demand a bureau of labor statistics. When we have that before onr eyes, then we can see how many hours of labor are necessary. We can tben see what the raw material is worth, how much it takes to manufacture the raw material into a productive state, and how much the producer receives, and how much the nonproducer will receive.
Q. How much would it increase labor if the eight-honr law was possible to be enforced !-A. I cannot answer that. When the hours of labor will be reduced, that will regulate itself.
Q. You have no means of information by which you can estimate what percentage labor would be increased if the eight-hour system should be adopted ?-A. We cannot do that.
VIEWS OF MR. ADOLPH DONAI. Mr. ADOLPH Donal appeared in behalf of the same delegation represented by the two preceding gentlemen, and made the following statement:
By the CHAIRMAN: