« AnteriorContinuar »
and is it not absolutely necessary for self-preservation that panper and criminal immigration, either from Asia or Europe, should be forbidden ?
8. As society for the last five hundred years has been making laws for the collection and preservation of property, is it not becoming important to inquire what can be done to secure a fair and just distribution of property!
9. If, as many persons assert, “the rich are growing richer and the poor poorer," is not this leading to a dangerous condition for both rich and poor? and should not some steps be taken to counteract this dangerous tendency?
10. As one of the greatest evils of to-day has grown out of a dangerous facility for contracting debts, whereby taxes have become troublesome if not unbearable, will it not be wise to ask, “How can this evil be checked?” And may it not be best to make all debts "debts of honor,” and therefore to be contracted only upon knowledge and character ?
11. As the “drifting" theory of social organization has been tried and found wanting, will it not be well to try a government by the wisest and best, acting for the “pnblic good," and not to further private ends? 12. As society is not yet perfect, must not Congress do its best to make it so?
In the course of the reading of Mr. Elliott's manuscript discussions took place between him and the members of the committee, as follows:
The CHAIRMAN. Are you aware that England is selling more goods to-day than at any previous period of her history?
Mr. ELLIOTT. I believe so.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you understand that stocks are being accumulated or being reduced in England ?
Mr. ELLIOTT. I understand that they are being accumulated.
Mr. ELLIOTT. When I was there last summer I was told by Manchester men that stocks were accumulating, and that every place was filled with them.
The CHAIRMAN. The London Economist says that stocks are being reduced; and that, so far as exports are concerned, the exports have steadily increased. Therefore what you have stated to be a fact is not so—that the demand in England is falling off. The demand is increasing.
Mr. ELLIOTT. Is that the testimony given by the Economist?
The CHAIRMAN. The returns for the last year show an increase of trade in quantity (except as to iron and steel) but a reduction in value.
Mr. ELLIOTT. It is only a short time since that there were 30,000 operatives out of work and on strike in and near Manchester.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; but they are at work again. That could not be set up as evidence that labor could not find employment. That was a case where people refused to work.
In regard to the question of wages the following discussion took place:
The CHAIRMAN. All the manufacturers that have been before us testified that they are paying larger rates than you name for wages, and I have just read a letter from Woburn giving the rate for labor there at $1.25 per day. Throughout the iron regions in Pennsylvania (where labor is cheapest) I have heard of nothing below 90 cents. At Trenton the rates are $1. Around New York, in manufacturing industries, the rates are $1.35.
Mr. ELLIOTT. I presume that if you were to offer 70 cents a day for wages for 30,000 men, you would have them all within a week.
The CHAIRMAN. That may be; but that is not the test of the average rate of wages. In regard to the reserving of the public lands the following discussion took place : The CHAIRMAN. Do you know any act of Congress which authorizes the absorption of public lands for any purpose but actual settlement !
Mr. Elliott. I know that the lands have gone into the hands of public monopolists.
The CHAIRMAN. But do you know any existing statute of the United States which permits the absorption henceforth of the public lands except by actual settlers and producers ?
Mr. ELLIOTT. I do not.
Mr. ELLIOTT. I assume that there are too many people in places. I should say that there are too many in China.
The CHAIRMAN. But take the world at large ; is it over-populated ?
In regard to hours of labor the following discussion took place :
Mr. ELLIOTT. As a general rule. They have been shortened from ten hours to nine hours in Massachusetts.
The CHAIRMAN, Mr. Walker testified yesterday that when he went into the boot and shoe business all the boot and shoe operatives worked thirteen hours a day, and that now they work ten hours a day when they are at work, but that the average of the whole year would be nine hours a day. And that a shortening of the hours of labor has occurred all over the world.
Mr. ELLIOTT. It has been forced upon us undoubtedly,
The CHAIRMAN. Is not the reduction of the hours of labor going on just as fast as machinery will enable it to be done?
Mr. ELLIOTT. I have my doubts about that. That is one thing which I want this committee to inquire about. I do not come here to say what should be done, or what should not be done.
Mr. THOMPSON. Do you not affirm, however, that, while machinery has increased the productive capacity from four hundred to a thousand per cent., it has not shortened the hours of labor ?
Mr. ELLIOTT. Essentially. Since I have known anything about labor for the past 25 years men have worked about ten hours a day.
The CHAIRMAX. Mr. Walker testified that the hours of labor have been reduced in his time from 13 hours to 10 hours.
Mr. ELLIOTT. That may be so in some cases; but you yourself know that the ordinary hours of labor are ten.
Mr. THOMPSON. Some one has remarked that even sermons have been shortened; so that the sermons which used to occupy two hours do not now occupy more than 40 minutes.
Mr. ELLIOTT. Then the labor of the listeners has been undoubtedly lessened. The CHAIRMAN. Would you consider it beneficial to have a law that would prohibit you from working more than eight or ten hours a day?
Mr. ELLIOTT. I should think not.
The CHAIRMAN. If there was such a law could you control the action of your brain if you wanted to?
Mr. ELLIOTT. I do it every day.
Mr. Elliott. It is a very desirable one for you to have, and for every one else to have.
The CHAIRMAN. Is it for the public good to restrict labor?
Mr. ELLIOTT. That is not a question which I propose to answer. It is a question that I ask.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, I ask you whether you think it is?
Mr. ELLIOTT. In certain ways. How far it can be done is a very difficult question. Your committee will come to a decision upon that. I have not come to the conclusion that I would restrict the hours of labor in a factory to six or four, or to twelve or ten hours. It is a matter for serious consideration. I only say to you that, in England, the government does restrict the hours of labor.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you arrived at any conclusion on that point yourself?
Mr. ELLIÓTT. I have arrived at the conclusion that we shall have to restrict the hours of labor in factories.
The CHAIRMAN. Then you think that the committee ought to recommend that to Congress?
Mr. ELLIOTT. I do not say so. I want this committee to make an examination. The CHAIRMAN. We are asking you what conclusion you have arrived at. Mr. ELLIOTT. I think that the hours of labor in factories ought to be restricted. The CHAIRMAN. Would you restrict the hours of labor out of factories? Mr. ELLIOTT. I do not see how you could. The CHAIRMAN. Then how could the labor in factories compete with the labor ont of the factories? The clothing business, for instance, is carried on in factories and in private houses. Now, if you restrict the labor in factories to six hours a day, and leave the people free to work as long as they like outside of factories, what will happen to those factories?
Mr. ELLIOTT. They will go to pieces-close up.
Mr. ELLIOTT. I do not think there is any danger of its adding to the cost of clothing:
The CHAIRMAN. Here is a factory in which you would restrict the labor to six hours a day; and here are private individuals outside working eight hours a day.
Mr. ELLIOTT. That is being done now.
The CHAIRMAN. Then the factory will be closed up, and the law will become inoperative, because laborers ontside will work as many hours as they choose, and that will be the end of the law.
Mr. ELLIOTT. In that case you may be right.
The CHAIRMAN. Laws must be universal in their application to the community, or else they are of no use.
Mr. ELLIOTT. Undoubtedly.
Mr. Thompson. Have you looked into the other question, as to the power of Congress to legislate on such domestic matters, and to say, for instance, that you shall not labor more than six hours a day in Nebraska! Is not that a matter which your State legislature should act on ?
Mr. ELLIOTT. I think so.
Mr. ELLIOTT. I do not suppose it has. But your committee, as I understand it, is to collect and digest the information that exists on the subject, and to put it before the country in a wise way.
Mr. THOMPSON. This committee is charged with two duties. First, to ascertain the causes of this supposed depression in business; and, second, to contrive remedies for it. Now, if Congress has no power to provide a remedy in the way you suggest, by limiting the hours of labor, it would seem that your argument does not apply to the question.
Mr. Elliott. It would not seem that my argument is not good, but only that it is not good for Congress. It may or not be in the power of Congress to do it; but it is in the power of the public to do it. That goes without talk.
On the subject of credit and capital the following colloquy took place:
The CHAIRMAN. Do you kuow what is the estimated annual surplus of wealth produced in the United States ?
Mr. ELLIOTT. I have not got it.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Wells thinks that it is about $600,000,000 per annum net earnings. Do you happen to know the tigures of the balances which England is supposed to have derived from all her trade with the world during the last fifteen years !
Mr. ELLIOTT. I have not the figures.
The CHAIRMAN. About sixty-five million pounds per annum. Now the United States, France, and Germany are supposed to be nearly on a level. The United States are supposed to earn a little more surplus than the others. On that statement of yours England would get about $600,000,000 a year; and the others about $25,000,000 a year. Then how can you say that England accumulates all the profits of the world ?
Mr. ELLIOTT. I do not say that she does so; I say that she has accumulated during the last hundred years a large proportion of the surplus of the world.
The CHAIRMAN. She could not have done so. There is $8,000,000,000 of accumulated capital in the United States; and France has a large capital (almost equal to that of England), and Germany has a large capital. How is it, then, that England can have accumulated the greatest portion when these other nations have as much as she has ?
Mr. Elliott. I say that she has accumulated a large proportion. Do you deny that England has accumulated capital?
The CHAIRMAN. I say that England has grown rich. But the United States have grown rich; and France has grown rich; and Germany has grown rich; England more rapidly than the others. But I deny that she has got the great bulk of the wealth of the world in her possession.
Mr. ELLIOTT. Do you deny that, for the last hundred years, she has accumulated a large portion of the wealth of the world?
The CHAIRMAN. The facts do not show it.
On the subject of the railroad debts of the United States held abroad, the following discussion took place :
The CHAIRMAN. Are we paying interest to England on these railroad bonds?
The CHAIRMAN. On how much of the bonds of these forty thousand miles of railroad that were built are we paying interest? Mr. ELLIOTT. It would be only a guess on my part.
The CHAIRMAN. It is estimated that $300,000,000 of these bonds are not now paying interest. Mr. ELLIOTT. That is very likely.
The CHAIRMAN. Are those railroads a benefit to the country, aside from their question of cost:
Mr. ELLIOTT. That is a very difficult question to answer.
Mr. ELLIOTT. A highway does benefit a country.
The CHAIRMAN. Suppose we have got railroads built out of the inoney of foreigners; does that fact hurt us?
Mr. ELLIOTT. I think it does, and I will show you how presently.
The CHAIRMAN. You say that farms have not produced more than they did formerly. Have we got any less population now than we had in 1872?
Mr. ELLIOTT. I do not mean to say that the country at large has not produced more food; but I do say that the individual farm, which a man has mortgaged, produces no more wheat to-day than it did in 1872. His farm produces no more; and wheat is down to a price much lower than it was at that time. Therefore, he has got a mortgage on his farm, aud he has got nothing to meet it with.
The CHAIRMAN. Is the country producing more or less of agricultural produce than in 1872
Mr. ELLIOTT. More, a good deal.
The CHAIRMAN. Are we not feeding more people in the United States to-day than we were in 1872?
Mr. ELLIOTT. We are.
The CHAIRMAN. Has not the population increased much more rapidly than even the amount of surplus labor?
Mr. ELLIOTT. I should think so.
The CHAIRMAN. Then, if you could have stopped the production of human beings, we would have been in a more prosperous condition than in 1872; and our only trouble is that we have had a little more production of human beings in the country than we ought to have had, in order to insure employment for all. Now, if you can give us a remedy for stopping that production, I would be obliged to you.
Mr. Elliott. Under this credit system that we have, we are developing the country without regard to the consequences.
The CHAIRMAN. But population increases on the credit system. That is exactly what happens.
Mr. ELLIOTT. We have imported some of the worst elements of labor from Europe, and we have imported some of the worst elements of labor from China, in order to fill up this factitious, excited condition of things that has grown up out of this excessive railroad building, which itself grew up out of the facilities of getting credit.
The CHAIRMAN. You stated a little while ago that there was not too large a population in the world if it were only properly distributed. Now, is not what you call the importation of labor merely a mode of distributing labor from countries where it is in excess to countries where there is a demand for it?
Mr. ELLIOTT. Undonbtedly.
The CHAIRMAN. But now, you say, yon would stop that emigration. You wonld thus prevent the proper distribution of labor.
Mr. ELLIOTT. I say that everything of that kind needs to be directed and restrained. I do not say that I would stop it.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you prohibit Chinese immigration ?
Mr. ELLIOTT. I should restrain it. I should restrain all immigration. When we have got already a surplus of labor, it seems to me that we had better not encourage further immigration; and, if so, had we better not restrain it !
The CHAIRMAN. We give no bounties to immigrants.
The CHAIRMAN. Is not the large increase in the manufacturing products of the conntry within the last five years mainly due to the immigrants from abroad who have gone out on the lands?
Mr. ELLIOTT. No doubt of it. The CHAIRMAN. Is not that beneficial to the country! Mr. ELLIOTT. I doubt it. The CHAIRMAN. Do you think we would be better off if we had not produced this surplus of agricultural products, and paid our debt with it?
Mr. ELLIOTT. We have not paid our debt.
The CHAIRMAN. That is a question of fact; and you will allow me to correct you. It is estimated that at least $600,000,000 of the government debt alone has come back from Europe within the last few years, and has been paid for by American capital, and is now in the country. That has been paid for by the surplus products of those who have come here to settle on the public lands. Now, is it a good thing to pay our debt! Mr. ELLIOTT. It is a good thing nndoubtedly, but it would be better for us not to have the debt.
The CHAIRMAN. But we had it; and these foreigners have come here, and, by their labor, have enabled the government to reduce its debt to the amount of $600,000,000 of what was held abroad.
Mr. Thompson. How would you restrain immigration ! Mr. ELLIOTT. Am I a law-maker; am I here to draft laws! Mr. THOMPSON. You are here to advise what is to be done. Mr. Elliott. I make suggestions to you, which, in yonr wisdom, you will consider. We have got at Washington the assembled wisdom of the United States concentrated in some 300 inen; and we look to thein to do this thing for us. That is what I am here for—to try and convince you that you in your wisdom can do something, and ought to do something.
Mr. THOMPSON. But we want to be advised what to do. Would you restrain inimigration from China more than from Germany or Ireland; or would you discriminate against individuals, or against countries !
Mr. ELLIOTT. I would restrain all panper immigration; I wonld restrain all criminal immigration. Beyond that it becomes a question. Can you do anything to restrain it beyond those two things if the public good requires it? Most certainly you can. We are not bound to take all the surplus population produced in Germany, Ireland, China, and everywhere else. What is the fact in France, where they have had no call for cheap labor? They have got none. The average of families is less than three to a family. But in China there is no restraint, and in England there is no restraint; and the average of fanilies there is much higher; and therefore they have surplus labor.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you say that there was no cheap labor in France ? Mr. ELLIOTT. Comparatively none. The CHAIRMAN. Do you know the relative rates of wages in France and England ? Mr. ELLIOTT. I know that wages are low enough there. The CHAIRMAN. Do you know what the wages of a laboring man in France are compared with the same class of labor in England ?
Mr. ELLIOTT. I do not. The CHAIRMAN. The average is about two and a half francs for a common laborer in France, and in England it is from 28. 6d. to 38. Therefore labor is cheaper in France than it is in England.
Mr. ELLIOTT. But the average of families is larger in England than three.
The CHAIRMAN. The average of families is another matter. In France they have found out some method by which they keep the laborers from suffering from excessive population.
Nr. ELLIOTT. They have found out that they have no need for more population, and they do not produce it. But if you ask cheap labor to come here, England, Germany, Ireland, and China will produce it for you.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there in this country room for more population ?
The CHAIRMAN. The population which we have already is very small in comparison with the capacity of the country!
Mr. ELLIOTT. There is much room here, certainly. The CHAIRMAN. Then it cannot be that this distress is pro luced by the country bing over-populated. There must be some other cause for it. Mr. ELLIOTT. Shall I go on with my paper? The CHAIRMAN. Certainly. On the subject of government control of the railroads, the following discussion took place :
The CHAIRMAN. Suppose the government had control of the railroads, would not the government have the appointment of all the railroad officials ?
Mr. ELLIOTT. Yes
The CHAIRMAN. And the administration would exercise the same coutrol over thein that the railroad authorities now exercise. Wonld it be possible under those circumstances to change an administration!
Mr. ELLIOTT. I am not prepared to say.
VIEWS OF MR. JOHN ROACH,
Mr. John Roach, iron-ship builder, of New York and Chester, Pa., appeared before the committee by invitation.
He said: This committee is gathering facts which will be of great importance, and I feel pleased at having an opportunity to contribute what I may to the general result.