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managers by a small fixed salary.
Such co-operative societies are badly-managed joint-stock companies, and cannot be expected to succeed well.
Another difficulty with such companies is, that they rarely have enough capital, and, when bad trade comes, they are unable to bear the losses which will sometimes occur for several years in succession. They can borrow money by the mortgage of the buildings and machinery belonging to the company, and this is usually done; but no banker will give credit to such companies without the security of fixed property. Thus they frequently fail when bad trade comes, and those who buy up their property cheaply reap advantage. It is to be hoped that at a future time all working-men will become capitalists on a small scale, and when education and experience have been acquired, co-operative factories of working-men may succeed. At present it would be better to leave the management of business in the hands of capitalists, who are not only experienced and clever men, but have the best reason to be careful and active, because their fortunes depend upon success.
63. Providence. It is most deeply to be regretted that the working people of England will not, for the most part, see the necessity of saving a portion of their wages in order to have something to live upon when trade is bad, or when ill-health and misfortune come upon them. Too many working-men's families spend all that is earned while trade is brisk, and when employment fails they are as badly off as There are several distinct reasons why every man or woman should save up some property when possible: (1) It forms a provision in case of ill-health, acci
dent, want of employment, or other misfortune; it is also wanted for support in old age, or for the helpless widow and orphans of a workman who dies early.
(2) It yields interest, and adds to a workman's
income. (3) It enables a man to go into trade, to buy good
tools, and to enjoy good credit in case he sees an opportunity of setting up business on his
own account. No man and no woman, who is in the prime of life and earning fair wages, should spend the whole. Even an unmarried person will generally reach a time of life when, through ill health, old age, or other unavoidable causes, it is no longer possible to get a living. By that time enough ought to have been saved to avoid the need of charity or the degradation of the poor-house. When there is a wife and young family, the need of saving is evidently greater still. Every great storm, colliery explosion, or other great accident leaves a number of helpless children to be brought up by a struggling widow, or to go on the parish. No doubt people may meet with disasters so unexpected and so great that they cannot be blamed for not providing against them. A man who is blinded, or crippled, or otherwise disabled in early life, is a proper object of charity, but there would be plenty of benevolent institutions to provide for such exceptional cases, if those who are more fortunate would provide properly for themselves.
It is often said that working men really cannot save out of the small wages they receive; the expenses of living are too great. We cannot deny that there are labourers, especially agricultural labourers in the South of England, whose wages will not do more than barely provide necessary food and clothing for their families. The weekly earnings of a family in some parts are not more than 12 or 15 shillings on the average of the year, and sometimes even less. Such people can hardly be expected to save. But this is not the case with the artisans and labourers in the manufacturing districts. They seldom earn less than a pound a week, and often two pounds. The boys and girls, and sometimes the mother of the family, also earn wages, so that when trade is brisk a family in Manchester or Leicester, or other manufacturing town, will get altogether £150 a year, or more. Some kinds of workmen, especially coal-hewers, and ironpuddlers, earn twice that amount in good years, and are in fact better paid than schoolmasters, ministers of religion, and upper clerks. It is idle to say that the better-paid working men cannot save, and though we cannot make any strict rule, it is probable that all who earn more than a pound (five dollars, or 25 francs) a week, might save something.
It is easy to prove this assertion by the fact that when a strike occurs, men voluntarily live on a half, or a third of their ordinary wages. Sometimes they will live for three or four months on 12 or 15 shillings a week, which is paid for their support by their trades-union, or by other unions, which subscribe money to assist them. It is quite common for workmen to pay levies, that is, almost compulsory subscriptions of a shilling or more a week, to be spent by other workmen who are playing, as it is called, during a long strike. Nobody wishes working people to live on the half of their wages, but if, for the purpose of carrying on struggles against their employers, they can spare these levies, it is evident that they could spare them for the purpose of saving. Then, again, we know that the money spent on drink is enormous in amount; in this country it is about £140,000,000 a year, or about four pounds a year for every man, woman, and child. To say the least, half of this might be saved, with the greatest advantage to the health and morals of the savers, and thus the working classes would be able to lay by an annual sum not much less than the revenue of the nation.
TENURE OF LAND. 64. We have sufficiently considered the difficulties which exist regarding Labour and Capital, two of the requisites of production, and we will now turn to another part of political economy, and inquire into the way in which Land, the third requisite, is supplied.
In different countries land is held in very different ways.
It is a matter of custom, and in the course of time customs slowly change. The way in which farms are owned and managed in England at the present time is no indication of the way land is held in France, or Norway, or Russia, or even the United States; nor is it the same as the way in which farms were owned in England some centuries ago. What is fitting to one place and state of society will not necessarily be fitting in other circumstances. We have to consider the various ways in which the requisites of production, land, labour, and capital, are brought together; sometimes they are all furnished by the same person ; sometimes by separate persons.
In the condition of slavery, for instance, as it existed in the Southern States of North America, the owner of an estate owned the land, labour, and capital, all at once. Strictly speaking a slave is not a labourer, because he cannot sell his labour at his own price, and work or not as he likes. He is more in the position of the horse which drags the plough, a mere beast of burden. Just as a farmer owns his horses, and cows, and pigs, as part of his capital, so a slave-owner treats his slaves as part of his capital. Slave-labour being given unwillingly, and without hope of reward, is usually badly given, and is wasteful; but there is hardly any need to consider whether slavery is good or bad in an economical point of view, because it is altogether condemned from a moral point of view. We may show the way the requisites of production are furnished in slavery by the following diagram-
Land. Labour. Capital. In a very large part of the world, again, the government takes the place of land-owners, and collects the rent by means of tax-gatherers. The farming is done by poor peasants, who find the capital, so far as there is any, and also do the work. Thus, we have the arrangementGovernment.
Capital. Labour. This system is called Ryot Tenure, and it exists at the present day in Turkey, Egypt, Persia, and many eastern countries; also in a somewhat altered form in British India. After slavery, it is the worst of all systems, because the Government can fix the rent at what it likes, and it is difficult to distinguish between rent and taxes. When their crops fail the ryot peasants are unable to pay the tax-gatherers, and they get into debt and become quite helpless.
65. Peasant Proprietorship. One of the best modes of holding land, when it can exist, is that known as peasant proprietorship, because the owner of the land is the peasant himself, who labours with his own arms, and finds the capital also. In this system, as in slavery, all the requisites of production are in the same hands; thus,
Land. Labour. Capital. But in every other respect this system is the opposite of slavery. Its advantages are evident; the labourer being the owner of the farm and of all upon it, is an independent man, who has every inducement to work