Copyright
Eugene V. (Eugene Valentine) Brewster.

What's what in America online

. (page 6 of 12)
Online LibraryEugene V. (Eugene Valentine) BrewsterWhat's what in America → online text (page 6 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


calamity to those immediately affected, but it is
a universal loss; for, the great human family
is just so much poorer, the world's progress has
been retarded, and our onward march toward the
perfect civilization has been checked. Likewise,
every stroke of labor that does not go toward
making the world better or richer is wasted
energy. The man who insists on making shoes,
or raising wheat, or digging coal, when he is
mentally, physically and by nature ill-adapted
to that calling, is a drone and a burden upon
society. He is wasting energy and impeding the
general progress, because he is doing something
which others could do better or quicker, and he
is therefore the cause of misplacing two persons
in unproductive and unnatural callings.

MACHINES.

The labor saving machine is the personification
of economy. It, and all great inventions, are
welcomed by civilization as great economizers of
the world's work. It is wasted energy for man



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 103

to do by hand that which a machine can do as
well and in less time. The machine economizes
production and therefore lightens and lessens
the toil of the human family. Ten men in a shop
or industry, each assigned to that branch of the
business to which he is best adapted, form a
combination for economy identical with a ma-
chine. If a linotype machine, operated by one
man, can do the work of say five type-setters,
the world is richer to the extent of about what
four men could create in other vocations, — al-
lowances being made for the labor required to
make the machine itself.

DEPENDENCE.

A person can no longer make his own hat,
coat, shoes and house, and raise his own vege-
tables, as Crusoe did. Ten thousand men are
co-operating to give him his shoes alone. There
are the men who kill the animal which provides
the hide, the men who carry it to the jobber, the
men who strip it, the men who cure and tan it,
the men who pack it, load it on the trucks, put it
on the cars, unload it, carry it to the leather
merchant, and the innumerable clerks, book-
keepers, advertisers and stenographers who help
sell it to the shoe manufacturer, the additional



104 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

transportation, the endless variety of hands it
passes through in the factory, and the countless
hands that handle the finished shoe before it
reaches the consumer; and then, — the telegraph's
part in the manufacture or sale or transporta-
tion of that shoe, and the mails and the adver-
tising, each employing thousands. Even the linen
thread used in the shoe has a similar history;
likewise the pegs, the needles, the machines, the
cloth lining and the metal eyelets. And the shoe
is a small part of a man's necessaries. What does
all this show? The inter-dependence of men,
one upon the other.

CO-OPERATION.

We have come to that stage of human progress
when we could not return to the Crusoe method
if we desired. We must depend upon our broth-
ers in distant parts. A vast industrial machine
has been created, of which each member of the
human family forms a part. A must look to B
for his shoes, B must look to C for his meat, C
must look to D for his coal, and all must look to
one another for every needed thing. Even the
savages in distant lands are at work procuring
ivory and other commodities for us while we are
creating suitable articles for them, and thus the



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 105

human family are co-operating together for the
common good.

If this system of co-operation or trade is not
interfered with by unnatural and artificial de-
vices, every man will sooner or later find his
level and bend his energies in that calling to
which he is best fitted by nature, education, train-
ing, and environment. A natural law is at work.
To interfere with it is to divert commerce from
its natural channels and cause friction in the
great industrial machine. The machine needs no
oiling or mending; it simply requires direction.
It develops, expands and lubricates as it runs.
It is not revolution that wears out a machine; it
is friction.

COMBINATION.

Two or more persons can enjoy the heat of
one stove, or the light of one lamp, or the shelter
of one roof, as well as one person, and without
depriving anyone of an equal quantity thereof.
A printer can produce i,ooo circulars with but
little more cost than 50. A truck or car can
carry tons with but little more expense than
pounds. Two fish can be fried in one pan as
well as one. A professor can teach a class of
500 as well as of five. Hence the advantages of



106' WHAT'S WHAT IN AIMERICA

combination and co-operation, and hence the
uneconomy of individual isolation. How much
wiser for Crusoe to take Friday in his house-
hold and divide their labors, each doing that
which best suits him, using, — so to speak — only
one stove, one lamp and one frying-pan.

Suppose at Christmas a man has lOO presents
to distribute in various localities. A messenger
for each of the loo presents would mean an
expense of say $50 and much wasted energy. A
single messenger could so systemize the work,
by mapping out the shortest routes, that he could
accomplish the work in far less time, compara-
tively, than the 100 messengers, and his bill
would be only about $5. Now, suppose the man
should ascertain that each of his 199 neighbors
in the block also had 100 presents to deliver.
That would make 20,000 presents in all. If each
man should employ a separate messenger it
would cost about $1,000. One messenger would
go to First street and leave a package (little
knowing that another messenger was to deliver
a package at perhaps the very next door) , thence
to — say Nineteenth street, thence to a distant
section of the city, thence to still another district,
and so on. Each of the 200 messengers would
have the same long journey to make, wearing
out his shoe leather, making the cars do use-



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 107

less work, and wearing and wasting his own
energy. But suppose the 200 neighbors should
combine and co-operate. They would soon find
that about five messengers could deliver their
20,000 presents in about the same time that 200
could; and, at $5 each, or $25 in all, with a
saving of $975 to themselves. Mapping out the
city in five districts and assigning one messenger
to each, they would probably find that many
presents were to be delivered in adjoining houses,
and some to different residents of the same house.
Witness the many steps that have been saved,
and the time, and the labor of 95 men who
have thus been freed to work in some productive
vocation.

Method and system are parents of economy.
They allay waste, eliminate useless labor, and
lighten and lessen the toil of the human family.

ANOTHER ILLUSTRATION.

Some morning at break of dawn witness the
confusion in the simple industry of delivering
milk. A wagon rattles up to your door and
leaves a bottle of milk. It clatters down the
street and leaves a bottle to a neighbor in the
next block. Then it turns down the avenue and
leaves a bottle several blocks away, and thence



108 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

perhaps to a distant section. But watch, and you
behold another wagon coming. It stops at the
next house to yours and deposits a bottle on
the window-sill, then dashes down the block and
leaves a bottle at some distant house, then to
a house perhaps several blocks away, and so on
until it has covered, in spots, a large territory.
Soon, a third wagon appears and leaves a bottle
at the second house from yours, and then dashes
away to distant parts to cover its route.

And so on until nearly 200 different wagons,
or grocer clerks, have visited the 200 houses in
your block to deliver 200 separate bottle of milk.
In every block the same scene is being enacted.
Remember that every employer has horses,
wagons, harness, drivers, a store, books, a cashier,
advertising, fuel, light, and a plant to maintain.

*Now compare the unsystemized milk deliv-
ery with the scientific, methodical system of
delivering the mail. The letter-carrier leaves a
letter or paper at your door, hurries on to the
next house, then to the next and the next; then,
he does likewise on the other side of the street
until nearly every house in the block is visited;
then he proceeds to the next block and continues
his systematic, economical labors; and so on until

*This chapter, in fact all of part I, was written in 1903,
and published and copyrighted in 1906. Note what has taken
place since then.



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 109

he approaches the line where another carrier has
been doing likewise in the adjoining district.

Suppose mail should be delivered in the unor-
ganized, unmethodic manner that milk is deliv-
ered; it would require many times as many car-
riers to do it, and this additional work would
be just as useless and wasteful to the world as if
they were employed to dig holes in the earth only
to fill them up again. If the milk business were
to be organized similar to the letter-carrying
business v^^hat an enormous amount of wasted
energy and labor would be saved. What an
immense amount of useful and wealth-creating
work could those now useless extra milkmen
perform in other callings.

THE FUTURE.

The question is asked: Will all of the milk
dealers one day combine and form a Trust?
And should they? My answer is. Yes. Compe-
tition will perhaps drive them to it; but if it
does not, some day they will see the advantages
and benefits of such a combination and they will
wisely follow the example of the oil and steel
magnates. If they never see it, then some of
the larger and wiser milk dealers will, and they
will perhaps enlist sufficient capital to control
the market by buying up the milk supply at the



110 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

farms, thus driving the smaller dealers out of
the business or into the Trust.

What is true in the milk business is also true
of nearly every other similar business, and that
is the condition which this country has to face
in the near future.

PARTNERSHIP.

A is engaged in the manufacture of shoes. B
is a rival. They sell a certain shoe for $3. Each
has a separate plant to maintain; a bookkeeper;
a delivery wagon ; and fuel, light, rent and adver-
tising bills to pay. After a while A and B form
a partnership under one roof, with only one
delivery wagon, one bookkeeper, etc. With this
great saving in expenses they find that they can
produce as many shoes with the one enlarged
plant as the two old plants produced and at much
less cost. They can now pay a little higher
wages, make a little more profit and still reduce
the price of their shoes to, say, $2.90. C now
comes to town and opens a rival establishment.
He has difficulty in producing as good a shoe
for $2.90 as does the firm of A & B, but he com-
petes for a while until D comes to town and
starts another shoe factory. Then C and D join
their plants into one and the two firms go on com-
peting, each spending large sums in advertising.



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. Ill

etc. Finally they all get together and combine
the several plants into one. They build an exten-
sion on A and B's building and move C and D's
machinery therein. The new firm of A, B, C
& D now have a large plant. Where formerly
the individual manufacturers employed say six
bookkeepers, they can now get along with but
two. Where they once had ten delivery wagons
they now require but two or three, because of
the systemized routes mapped out. Instead of
each manufacturer spending $10,000 a year for
advertising, or $40,000 in all, the new firm nov/
spends only say $15,000. The saving and econ-
omy is so great in nearly everything, that they
can now pay still higher wages, make still greater
profit and sell their shoes for perhaps $2.75 —
if they want to. Thus everybody is benefited
by the enlarged partnership except those who
have been thrown out of employment, and they
shall presently be taken care of as we proceed.

Now, if four men by combining and forming
a partnership can reduce the price of shoes from
$3.00 to $2.75 and pay higher wages and make
more profit than if they v/ere operating separate
plants, hov/ great must be the advantages of 100
or 1,000 men and plants combining into a part-
nership. This would be a Trust. If two men
can use the light of one lamp or the heat of one



112 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

radiator without one depriving the other of any
light and heat, so can loo men do likewise, pro-
vided there is enough light and heat to go around,
and on this simple principle is the great Trust
founded. It economizes; it eliminates useless
energy; it allays waste; it saves. Our letters are
delivered by the Trust system ; our milk is deliv-
ered by the old system of individual enterprise
and is inconsistent with modern civilization.

ORGANIZATION.

If the industries were not organized, if Trusts
and Combinations were unknown, if there were
no corporations and no partnerships and every-
thing was carried on by individual units, what
vv^ould be our industrial condition? What an
enormous amount of waste would there be and
what a collosal volume of extra work would the
human family have to perform to produce what
we now have!

Organization is the key-note of the century.
"Individual Enterprise" is a relic of past ages.
A partnership of two or more is organization
on a small scale. A corporation is practically
a combination of two or more partnerships, or an
enlarged legalized partnership. A Trust then is
simply an organization of several smaller organi-
zations. The greater and more perfect the or-



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 113

ganization, the greater the economy. The greater
the economy the lower will be the cost of pro-
duction, and the smaller will be the amount of
work to be performed and, likewise, the cheaper
will be the article — if! (See later).

ADVERTISING.

Most advertising is wasted energy. One of
its purposes is to take trade from another and
bring it to itself, — a snare set by A to attract B's
customers. It creates nothing, and is only useful
as a means of communication or notification, and
it imposes an unnecessarily heavy burden upon
the human family. While it does give employ-
ment, it is not much more useful employment
than the hiring of men to shovel dirt into the
river and then hiring them to shovel it out again.
If employment is all we seek, why not tear down
the public buildings and then hire men to build
them up again? (The question of employment
for labor will be dealt with elsewhere.)

This illustration is not intended to discourage
advertising, for advertising has its uses, and
under present conditions is almost synonymous
with success. But suppose, for example, there
were loo telephone companies in New York in-
stead of one. The competition would be bitter.
Prices would come down to the lowest com-



114 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

petitive margin. But, as prices and profits came
down, so would wages. The rivalry would en-
courage dishonesty, hatred and envy, and result
in various impositions, such as compelling every
subscriber to have several 'phones.

Each company w^ould have the expense of
maintaining a separate plant, with its small army
of employees, and wires strung over the city like
a mosquito netting, and each would be spending
large sums in advertising which would finally
be paid by the consumers.

Now, contrast this unorganized confusion with
the present single system with its one small ad-
vertising bill to pay, one system of wires, one set
of canvassers and other employees, one engine
room, one president, etc. Has not the burden of
the world's work been lightened and lessened by
this combination and organization?

THE WORLD'S WORK.

Given a population of 80,000,000 of which say
20,000,000 are working people, and given a cer-
tain amount of work required to provide the
80,000,000 people with food, clothes, shelter and
the numerous minor conveniences, — how many
hours a day must these 20,000,000 working-
people labor to produce what we now produce,
under the old unorganized system of individual



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 115

enterprise? If there were lOO telephone com-
panies in New York instead of one, here at once
we require about ten times as many men in this
single industry as are now required, and these
hundreds of thousands of men required to oper-
ate the loo telephone companies must be taken
away from other industries. And so on, through-
out all the trades, professions, factories and
industries.

If the average day's work is now ten hours,
and all those who want to work are now em-
ployed, and only one-half of the industries are
now organized into Trusts, what would be the
result if all the other industries were organized
into Trusts? First, there would not be so much
work to do, owing to the great saving and econ-
omy of combination as before explained; and
second, several hundred thousand workers who
are now employed would be thrown out of em-
ployment. Here we arrive at an apparent ob-
stacle. One of two things must be done; either
the great unemployed must leave the country, or
be supported in idleness, or die of starvation, or,
the hours of work must be reduced! If 20,000,-
000 can do the required work, working ten hours
a day, with half the industries unorganized, and
if organization (Trusts) would throw say 5,000,-
000 out of employment, then we must reduce the



110 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

hours of daily work so as to give the 5,000,000
employment!

If the hours were reduced to say six, the re-
maining 15,000,000 could not do all the work in
that time, and the 5,000,000 unemployed must
be called in to help. A demand for the labor of
the 5,000,000 would at once be created. Every-
body would then be employed. Every industry
would be organized. Useless work and wasted
energy would be eliminated. Everybody would
have shorter hours of work. The uneducated
would have more time to study and develop.
The arts would then be generously patronized.
Paupers would disappear. Wealth would mul-
tiply. Ignorance and drunkenness would have
received their death-blow, because their father —
Poverty — would have been destroyed. But hold,
— other difficulties present themselves: Who
would compel the organized industries (Trusts)
to reduce the hours of work? What would pre-
vent them charging exorbitant prices? Who or
what would prevent the captains of industry
filling their own pockets and keeping the great
profits to themselves? Who or what would pre-
vent the rich from growing richer, and the poor
poorer?



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 117
SYNOPSIS.

The informed reader might well have passed
over the preceding pages, for they are purely
rudimentary; but if he has been kind and patient
enough to follow me thus far, so much the better,
for he has refreshed his memory and will be
more ready to grasp that which is to follow.

Before proceeding let me recite in synopsis
these important truths which I have already
illustrated:

I. Economy. — We desire to get the greatest
good from mother earth with the least possible
labor.



2. Waste. — The destruction of
every useful atom.

Every useless stroke of work.

For lOO men to do what
10 men could do.



Is a loss to
all the world



3. Employment. — We should not aim simply
to give men employment. We must aim to make
them useful — not merely laborious. To dig
holes and then fill them up is employment, but
it is not useful. So is all that work useless and
wasteful which fewer men could do better or
quicker under the Trust or Combination system.



118 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

PART II.

A SUMMARY AND EXPOSITION OF
THE PRECEDING PAGES.

Having familiarized ourselves with the ele-
mentary truths concerning the Trust principle,
we have now arrived at that point where we
may begin to shape an intelligent argument, but
before so doing, let us summarize. Perhaps we
may now be able briefly to set forth the more
important features of the Trust or Combination.

GOOD QUALITIES
OF THE TRUST.

1. It eliminates useless labor and energy.

2. It allays waste.

3. It economizes and reduces to the mini-

mum the cost of production.

4. It reduces the world's work.

£;. It tends to lessen the hours of labor.

6. It makes it possible to raise wages.

7. It makes it possible to lower the prices of

commodities, and thus reduce the cost
of living.

8. It operates in harmony with the law of

natural selection.



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 119

9. It destroys wasteful competition, and
economizes by eliminating the useless
and the unfit.
10. It includes all of the advantages of co-
operation without altogether destroying
the advantages arising out of the natural
instincts of rivalry, contest and emula-
tion.

EVIL QUALITIES
OF THE TRUST.

1. It throws large numbers out of employ-

ment.

2. It destroys many small dealers, jobbers

and middlemen.

3. It tends to create monopoly in private

hands.

4. It creates power in private hands arbi-

trarily to fix exorbitant prices, to lower
wages and to control the market.

5. It tends to create great wealth for the few

at the expense of the many, widens the
chasm between the rich and the poor,
and causes concentration of wealth.

BALANCING ACCOUNTS.

We have, then, in the Trust, an immense com-
mercial giant which is both good and bad at the



120 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

same time. If one had a fine thoroughbred horse
which balked, or shied, or kicked, should we de-
stroy it because of these evil qualities, forgetting
that it also has an equal percentage of good qual-
ities? Or, should we try to cure it of its faults
by training it to do our bidding? We do not
condemn and destroy a great machine because it
has a defective part, but we rather seek to remedy
the defect.

The Trust is doing a wonderful work for the
world. Like improved machinery, it is lighten-
ing and lessening the toil of the human family,
and at the same time it is working a great injury.
Labor-saving machinery is also working injury,
in that it is making large numbers of men idle,
but this is not sufficient reason to destroy it.
Machinery and Trusts are brothers. To be con-
sistent, if we destroy the one we must destroy
the other. Before contemplating destruction of
the Trust, let us see if we cannot find some way
to train and to harness it, like the horse, so that
it will be useful and beneficial. Let us try to
devise a method whereby the good qualities of
the Trust can be preserved and the evil qualities
eliminated.



STRIKES, PROFITEERING, ETC. 121
PART III.

FALLACY OF THE GOVERNMENT
OWNERSHIP IDEA.

The doctrine of socialism, which may be de-
fined as government ownership and operation of
the means of production, is attractive. Some of
our ablest men are numbered among its expon-
ents, and the political parties which advocate
socialism, in whole or in part, are growing
rapidly.

The theory of socialism is so beautiful and
may be so cleverly stated that very few indeed
have the acumen to withstand its assaults upon
the reason, particularly when only one side of
the question is heard. The great mass of our
people have refused to accept it, not because they
believe it unsound, but because they either do not
understand it or are prejudiced and believe it to
be some destructive, lawless scheme of the dis-
contented.

The recent coal and railroad strikes, had they
long continued and assumed really alarming pro-
portions, would have furnished an almost unan-
swerable argument in favor of the government
ownership idea; and a repetition in these or in
some other important industry would perhaps



122 WHAT'S WHAT IN AMERICA

so drive home the conviction that socialism was
the only remedy, that for all we could do the
elections would be carried by the party advo-
cating those measures, and our present form of
government overthrown.

The superficial thinker, upon reading the fore-
going pages, will probably arrive at one or two
conclusions as to the Trust; either it must be de-
stroyed or it must be taken over by the govern-
ment. The more thoughtful will conclude that
it would not be wise or expedient, even if pos-
sible, to destroy the Trust, and his next thought
will be in the direction of public ownership. He
will say that if the government can operate the
Post Office system so successfully it ought to be
able to operate the coal mines, the oil fields, the
factories and the railroads, just as the cities
operate their water works, police department,
and in many cases their railroads and gas plants.


1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryEugene V. (Eugene Valentine) BrewsterWhat's what in America → online text (page 6 of 12)