« AnteriorContinuar »
McNeal in this: He wanted to be exceedingly practical, and so he told you you might issue an eight-hour law only in government offices and everybody connected with it, as he stated this morning. Now, of course, only an amendment is necessary in order to have that law made for the whole United States, for all the factories and for all the workshops; and, as an amendment to the Constitution was made for the abolition of black slavery, I think it is just as necessary to have the Constitution amended for the abolition of white slavery. That is only what I have to suggest ; and perhaps I should explain to you how the eight-hour law is working. For instance, if there were one thousand workingmen engaged in one branch of trade, and by some cause, say by the improvement of machinery, two hundred of these men are thrown out of employment, now, what is it that leads the employer to bring down the prices of these laborers? Those two hundred men being out of employment; nothing else. These wages are paid for a short time; then the two hundred workmen thrown out of employment, after having eaten up their savings, come and offer their labor, the only capital they have, for lower wages. The boss, of course, goes to his workmen and states they will have to work for less or go out; they have to work for less. Now, if by that new law these two hundred hands are in employment, and there are no other hands in the market, then the workingmen will take and regulate the price of their labor, and in this way they will pull through. Of course, the difficult thing will be if machinery should be again improved. Every employer who in this way has been treated will think of new machinery to get rid of his workmen. Well, if the machinery should be again improved to throw hands out on the market, then the working day will have to be reduced to seven hours; because this is a saw that never cuts blunt; that is all I have to state.
JEREMIAH E. THOMAS, a colored man, next appeared before the committee, and was questioned as follows:
By the CHAIRMAX:
Q. Have you been studying the causes of the present distress ?-A. Since I have been out of employment I have had occasion to study it.
Q. What is the difficulty in your branch of business ?-A. The difficulty in my branch of business has been for the last three or four years that the cities have beeii promising good wages, and a great many of my people have come to the city, and now we have come here wages have got down, and we have not got money to get out; and I want you to relieve the poor colored people and help them to do something; and it is this, give the men in the city of New.York, or any other city, who are out of employment, money, and let them go South or West, and provide for them for eight or twelve months. If you do that, I guarantee you will do a very great many of my race, our people, and myself, good; and I will go any day that any man gives me the opportunity to do so. That is what I ask, and no more.
Q. You want the government to give more money to all people who are out of employment to go somewhere else ?-A. No, sir.
Q. But you want it to be used in that way?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Suppose government could not find any place where they could get employment ? -A. But, sir, there are.
Q. Do they want waiters down South ?--A. Yes, sir. I am not particular about waiters' work. I would rather have anything else that I could get.
Q. Was there a demand when you went away?-A. Well, they were paying $4 or $5 a month, while here they were paying $15 or $16; but now they have no work. I thought I could have a farm, and live with a full stomach, and be as free as anybody e se, but I can't do it now.
WILLIAM WAGNER vas the next person who appeared before the committee, and was questioned as follows:
By the CHAIRMAN : Question. What is it you wish to offer testimony about ?-Answer. I wish to give an explaisation of the causes of our distress. Q. Whom do you represent ?-A. My individual self.
Q. You mean your own individual distress ?-A. No, sir; I mean the distress of society, of which I am a member.
Q. What is your business?-A. I make cigars for a living.
The Chairman. Well, we have had a very full statement of the cigar-maker's ills from two men.
Mr. WAGNER. Well, three heads are better than two; I may have something different. How do you know I am going to give the same?
Q. What is your explanation of the distress ?-A. My idea of the causes of the distress of society is the fundamental law underlying that society, and that is competition.
Q. Competition ?-A. Yes, sir; the competitive system.
Q. Well, now, for two days we have had the co-operative system recommended as the remedy for the competitive. Do you think you can give any new ideas? and, besides, do you think Congress can abolish the competitive system ?-A. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAX. Then I decline to hear you, unless you can make some such recommendation.
Mr. WAGNER. Well, sir, I understand this committee was appointed to hear our distress,
Q. Well, what law will you have us repeal ?-A. I would have no laws repealed ; I would have laws made.
Q. What laws would you have made?-A. I would reduce the hours of labor.
By the CHAIRMAX:
Q. Are you a representative of any organization, or only of yourself?-A. I represent myself and nobody else. In order to find out the causes of depression, we have to find out the necessities for doing a good prosperous trade. If there is anything lacking for the prosperity in trade which we had five or ten years ago, and which we don't enjoy now, let us see. We have to-day, as at that time, a good soil, abundance of crops, the same amount of workmen, or even more, the same amount of capital, as many railroads, as many canals; everything necessary for production the same. We have as much capital in the country as at that time; in fact, we have more than at that time. Is there any other element necessary for the prosperity in trade? I have asked two or three gentlemen on that point. They told me yes--confidence. I will not enter into that point here now about the question of confidence, becanse they had to admit that was a secondary cause, not a primary cause ; not a cause, but a consequence. Do you know any other? No; I do not.
Now, gentlemen, if I can point out an element which rides along with these others. like foreign trade, or anything like that, I believe I will have told you something new, I believe if I asked you do you know such an element, you would say, "I do not." It is parsimony. Parsimony is generally considered a virtue. Without parsimony on the part of some of our citizens, on the part of our fathers and forefathers, we wonld not have as much wealth now, which is enjoyed by those who own it. Parsimony! I believe that desire can be exaggerated. Suppose all people came to live in the same style as Chinese, a little potatoes and rice, one suit of cheap cotton clothing for the whole year, what would be the conseqnence? I say the indnstry of the whole nation would be reduced to the production of a few potatoes and a little salt, and one suit of clothes for each man. If parsimony were carried on to such a degree, it would be an evil. There must be a limit between the two, where parsimony ceases to be a virtue, and where it begins to be an evil. The question with us is, lave we reached that limit? Have we reached that stage where parsimony is no longer a blessing; where it is the cause of our distress?
Q. Assuming that that is so, what is the remedy ?-A. Allow me to say I did not hear any one go into the canse of the evil to offer proof for what he said was the cause. I have come here to give the cause of the evil, to contine myself to the cause only, and give you full and ample evidence that what I give as the cause is the cause. I don't want to give any remedy. Now, come to the point; if you ask any business man about the stagnation for instance, “Why don't you go on with your business the same as you did five or ten years ago? Why not go on with your stock of goods as before ?” What will he tell you? “I can get the goods easy enough, but if I did buy I could not dispose of the goods.” If you ask the manufacturer why he don't go on with his business the same as formerly, he says, “I can produce it; my workmen are anxions for work, but if I produce as much as I formerly did I could not dispose of my products, and if my obligations were due I could not ineet them.” This is a plain fact. It cannot be disputed by any booly. I take up my points in order. No. 1. Our present stagnation in trade is caused by the fact that producers and dealers cannot sufficiently ilispose of their goods.
The Chairman. That is a fact.
Mr. Merwin. Why can't they dispose of their goods? I propose to follow up this question.
Q. Would not the workingmen spend the money if they had it :-A. That is just the point I am coming to.
Q. Would not the workingmen spend the money if they had it?-A. Yes, sir; they would.
Q. Then the parsimony, as far as they are concerned, is forced upon them?--A. I don't know what you mean by that. Q. You say if they had the money they would spend it?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Now, if they have not the money they can't spend it?-A. The parsimony is on the part of the men who have the money. Why can't they dispose of the goods ? Are they dearer than before ? No; they are cheaper. They do everything they can to dispose of them, but they can't dispose of them; the cause is not with the producers and dealers; it is with the people; the people will not buy. I come to my point number two, that our producers and dealers cannot sufficiently dispose of their goods because the people don't buy them to such an extent as before. Why don't people buy as much as before? Because they don't earn as much as before. There are two points. The third point is that people don't buy so much as before because they have not so much money to buy with as before. Now, we have one fact here, and we have another fact contradicting that fact, apparently. We have as much money in the country to-day as we had five or ten years ago; in fact, more. If the currency is contracted a little the remaining currency will buy more; it is worth more. Money is in the country. If you ask any workman if he has as much money as he had five or ten years ago, he will tell you no. If you ask a business man he will tell you no. Where is it, then? With the cash capitalists. Let us make a distinction between the capitalist and the people. It is the cash capitalist on the one hand and the great masses of the people on the other. The great fault is that the cash has the tendency to remain with the cash capitalists; it does not come out of their hands. Allow me to follow up this argument. What do we need for the revival of trade? In order to relieve the stagnation in trade we need more disposal of commodities. Which is the first requirement in order to dispose of commodities ? Demand for commodities. What do we need in order to have demand for commodities? Buying on the part of the people. What do we need in order to make people bny? Money in the hands of the people. What do we need in order to put money in the hands of the people? Earnings on the part of the people. What do we need in order to secure earnings to the people? Work for the people. Which is the first requirement in order to provide work for the people? Demand for the products of work. This is equal to demand for commodities. What follows from that? The first point is identical with the Second; the second with the third; the last one with the first one; they are all identical. They all mean prosperity in trade. If you have established any one of these points you have established all of them. Nir. Chairman, I wish you would contradict me if I am wrong.
The CHAIRMAN. No; there is good authority for what you say; the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.
Mr. MERWIN. I don't see why it should be laughed at. These points are like the spokes of a wheel; if you put any one of them in activity, they are all in activity; if you stop or impede any one of them, you impede all of them. Mr. Chairman, I have offered to produce to you one element of prosperity which we had five or ten years ago which we have not now; it is money in the hands of the people. Money in the hands of the people existed five or ten years ago. It is a fact that that element is wanting wherever a nation is in a starving condition. If you go through past history, go to Europe, you will find where the capitalist disposes readily of the money, there prosperity and trade exist. Why, in our case, don't the money come out of the hands of the people? Why did it years ago? Because at that time we were building up railroads and properties to an enormous extent. The needs of the people have not followed up to the same extent as the capital, and in consequence the money that is now going into the hands of the capitalist, it is not brought back. Suppose a man like Astor earns $5,000,000, and he needs for his commodities $1,000,000; the other $4,000,000 remains in his hands until there is a chance for investment; as long as there is a chance the cash will not be in the hands of the cash capitalist; as soon as this chance is given the money will be in the hands of the people; but if not it will be in the bands of the cash capitalist. You might say to-day there is plenty of money in the hands of the capitalist. You might say there is $100,000,000 of capital; but suppose a man like Astor keeps $1,000,000 ont of investment, if he does employ it for luxuries or anything else he will buy from the people, and a million dollars' worth of goods are sold, and the people have it in their hands again. Money is only good for circulating ; class A will take it and dispose of it to class B; class B will dispose of it again; and we can tell pretty nearly how far that will be repeated. Say we have in our country about $70,000,000 to dispose of, and $700,000,000 of capital; now these $70,000,000 of capital negotiate the total business, and we can see that every dollar does duty in the way of exchange ten times for every individual, consequently every million that is kept ont of employment will hurt the people to about ten times its own amount.
Q. As a matter of fact, do you know whether the production of the world is greater than in 1872:-A. It must be less.
Q. But the quantity of the production, the volume of production ?-A. In the United States if there was more production there would be more enjoyment of products, but who enjoys it nowadays? Does the capitalist ? No, he don't. Does the working man! No, he don't.
Q. Have you studied the figures ? have you got the figures ?-A. The figures I have given you I don't rely on at all; I have stated the principle.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, you have stated the principle; if you have no facts to give, you had better stop. You want people to spend money; every man in this room wants people to spend money. They have not got it.
Mr. MERWIN. And ihose who have it don't spend it; if they had it, they would. Q. Give us a mode that would be a remedy.-A. I will give you one.
Q. Give us a practical suggestion to make them lay out money. What can Congress do to compel men to spend money ?-A. There is a way to do it.
Q. What is it?-A. I am not prepared at present to tell it. Let Congress proceed in about this way: Try to find some institution, arrangement, or means tending to always make the holders of cash funds buy with their money as soon as possible after receiving it, by buying commodities or services from the people, either for luxuries, or for the purpose of accumulation, or for the purposes of reproductive investment. Observe as much as possible the following conditions: Don't disturb the laws of property. The proposed arrangement should not be of an inquisitive or obnoxious character. It should be easily controllable, and not open the door to fraud. It should not impede the freedom of individuals to carry on their business in such a way as they see proper. It should not increase the taxation of the people. It should interfere as little as possible with our present social organization. It should contine its bearing and tendency as much as possible to the object in view. If this object can be attained, then there would be a chance for remedying it. At present this matter is new; it is new, and it is laughed at; and if I gave something else it would be laughed at.
Q. But ridicule is the test of truth, according to Lord Shaftsbury:-A. Well, it may be. I don't think you can contradict that.
Mr. CLARK next appeared before the committee, and was questioned as follows:
By the CHAIRMAN:
Q. C'pon what point do you desire to speak to the committee?-A. On the point to remedy the patent laws of the State on all machinery.
Q. You want to suggest a remedy for grievances arising out of the patent laws ?A. Yes, sir.
Q. Please state it as briefly as you can.-A. Now, I suppose it is in your power to pass a law taxing all machinery; passing a law that all moneys thus recovered should go to the United States Treasury, and be redistributed by the United States Treasury in the shape of land, from the assessment on machinery. Revise the patent laws; tax all goods manufactured by machinery, to supply the wants of people throwu out of employment by machinery. 'Q. Would not that put the prices of goods up ?-A. In a measure it would.
Q. Would not that make it harder for the working people to buy them ?-A. They could afford to buy them if they had more money. I claim that they can inake laws to do that, and then the money arising from the production of the machinery to be put into the Treasury. I was a soldier in the Army. You have given me 160 acres of land if I go onto it. I have got a family, and my fare to go from here to Fort Scott is $33 for one; three fares (the number of my family) will be—at half fare, it will cost me one hundred and some dollars to go to Fort Scott. The reason I have to go there is because there is no land this side of that. Then, when I get there I have to pay $120 a year for rent. How am I going to get my family onto that land? Yon might as well give me that land in the moon. We simply ask you to do what has been requested here by many of the speakers, give $300 to $500, at 6 per cent. interest, say for ten years. You may issue bonds for $500,000,000; sell these bonds, put the proceeds in the Treasury, and issue these greenbacks to every man who is an honest man; give him ten years to pay for the loan. Let the bonds have twenty years to run; that would give the government ten years' use of the money, after we had paid our debts, at 6 per cent.; and you sell the bonds at 6, and consequently we consent to give you 2 per cent. for the use of the money. You understand me.
The CHAIRMAN. There is a bill pending in Congress for that now.
Mr. CLARK. I can remember when I was a boy, in 1842, when I could pick up the Washington Globe and read that the Senate sat eight hours a day. Now you sit from twelve to three. A prayer is made in Congress for half an hour; then, the reading of the minutes takes another half hour; a bill is sent up to the House to be considered: it is handed to the Vice-President, to the Secretary, but it is never adopted, but passe into the Committee on Light-houses, and the first thing we know of it is that $200,000 is given to somebody. Why is that done? Because we have not got a Henry Clay or a Calhoun to debate it. Now, what I want to say is that we should do a little more work. I want, my friends, to say something more. My mother is a widow of a soldier who fought in the war of 1812. Last winter you passed a law giving them pensions. Very well. Her papers were all right. She went down to see about this money; but, 0! there was no appropriation.
Q. Who told you no money was appropriated for paying the pensions for the last war of 18121-A. The officer down below here.
Q. You can go down and tell him there was $1,000,000 added to the pension bill for the purpose of covering that.-A. Well, I will tell the old lady when I am down home; I think it will make her feel well. Well, now, I want to say-I will not detain you any longer—there is a certain other matter-just for a moment; we have here a penitentiary that works about how many hands? Some gentleman post me.
The CHAIRMAN. That is a State institution.
Mr. CLARK. 0, I will fix that. We have this penitentiary institution that pays their hands some seventy cents a day. Now, I will say that a judge in the State of Illinois for every prisoner he sent to the penitentiary he got $10, and I presume a good deal of that is going on now. Now, I think that that penitentiary should be taken and all these prisoners thrown into the sea.
The CHAIRMAN. We can't take up time in considering that; we have not power to do anything in State matters.
Mr. CLARK. Well, that is all I will trouble you with to-day.
Mr. Harlax was the next to appear before the committee, and was questioned as follows:
By Mr. HEWITT:
Q. Do you represent some organization here?-A. I represent the Blue Ribbon Temperance Organization.
Q. You have studied the causes of existing distress in the country?-A. A little, sir. Q. And you are prepared to suggest a remedy ?-A. I have got one remedy, anyhow.
Q. Be good enough to state the causes as briefly as possible.-A. I have listened to the arguments given this afternoon, and I have heard the sentiments on the financial question and everything else, and I come to represent-and I know you have the power to do what I ask you to do according to the Constitution of the United States. I come as a representative of the temperance men. I consider that nine-tenths of our poverty, nine-tenths of the wretchedness that exists in our land is all by the beerguzzling and the whisky-drinking, and what we want to do is to get men, as Diogenes said when he walked through the city, that are prepared to enact laws that will not encourage disease in the body-politic: and hence we ask yon, as one of our representatives, to go back to Washington and enact laws prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquor.
Q. Do you hold there is power under the Constitution to do that?-A. I do, sir ; and, according to the testimony, the government has the power to prohibit anything that has a tendency to injure the people of the United States.
Q. What clause of the Constitution gives that power!-A. I don't remember the section; I think it is the first, where it is stated that it is in the power of Congress that it shall do anything that is for the good of the United States.
Q. Have you read the Constitution of the United States ?-A. Yes, sir; studied it, but I did not commit it to memory.
Q. Well, I don't remember any such power given in the Constitution, but I should like the reference.-A. There is no power in the Constitution of the United States giving a power to coin money, and do anything that is for the good of the United States?
The CHAIRMAN. No, sir, there is no such section.
Mr. HARLAN. Is there is no such thing, that Congress shall have the power to enact laws such as shall promote the prosperity of the United States? I refer to the second section: I don't remember the exact wording, but I say Congress has the power to restrain the sale and prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquor.
The CHAIRMAN. You make that assertion, and we will take it down. I would like a reference hereafter.
Mr. HARLAN. Well, I will take the State of Maine.
The CHAIRMAN. O, the States have that power; that is admitted. Here is the distinction; what the States can do the Federal Government cannot; the right of the States to do this thing is acknowledged, but you are now making a proposition for Federal legislation.
Mr. HARLAN. I do.