On Picket Duty.

On Picket Duty.

Every man’s labor, says the New York Nation, is worth what some other man will do it equally well for, and no more. That is to say, if one man demands for his labor the whole product thereof, he cannot have it because some other man is satisfied to perform the same labor for half of the product. But in that case what becomes of the other half of the product? Who is entitled to it, and what has he done to entitle him to it? Every man’s labor is worth what it produces, and would command that, if all men were free. There is no natural rate for telegraphers any more than for bookkeepers or teamsters, continues the Nation. No more, truly; but just as much. The natural rate of wages for ten hours of telegraphing or bookkeeping or teaming is as much money as will buy goods in the market for the production of which ten hours of equally tiresome and disagreeable labor were required. And this natural rate would be the actual rate if unlimited competition were allowed in everything. That competition is a potent factor in the regulation of wages we admit, but what we further assert is that, if competition were universal and applied to capitalists as well as laborers, it would regulate wages in accordance with equity. All that we ask is absolutely free play for the economists’ boasted law of supply and demand. Why are the capitalists so afraid of the logical extension of their own doctrines?—Liberty, August 25, 1883.(172 ¶ 1)

Taking generals as they go, I have always held Robert E. Lee in moderately high esteem, but, if Jubal Early tells the truth, this opinion must be revised and perhaps reversed. Trying to relieve Lee from that horrible aspersion on his character which attributes to Grant’s magnanimity at Appomattox Lee’s retention of his sword. Early declares that Lee and all his officers were allowed by the express terms of the capitulation to retain their side-arms, and further (citing Dr. Jones’s Personal Reminiscences of General R. E. Lee) that Lee once said to Jones and other friends, and in 1869 to Early himself, that, before going to meet Grant, he left orders with Longstreet and Gordon to hold their commands in readiness, as he was determined to cut his way through or perish in the attempt, if such terms were not granted as he thought his army entitled to demand. That is to say, General Lee, having determined that it would be folly to make his men fight longer for his cause, made up his mind to surrender, but decided at the same time that he would cause his men to die by the thousands rather than submit himself and his officers to a slight personal humiliation. He was willing to swallow the camel, but, rather than stomach the gnat, he would murder his fellow-men without compunction. All considerations fall before superstition, be the superstition religious, political, or military. The art of war, on which government finally rests, has, like government itself, its laws and regulations and customs, which, in the eyes of the military devotee, must be observed at all hazards. Beside them human life is a mere bagatelle. Man himself may be violated with impunity, but man-made laws and customs are inviolably enshrined in the Holy of Holies.—Liberty, April 11, 1885.(172 ¶ 2)

An idea for a cartoon, which Puck probably will not utilize: Grover Cleveland in the White House with his new and legal wife; to the right, a companion picture, George Q. Cannon in a prison cell; to the left of the White House, Maria Halpin, Cleveland’s illegal wife, and their illegitimate son, dwelling as social outcasts in an abode of wretchedness and want because wilfully abandoned by the husband and father; to the right of the prison, Cannon’s illegal wives and illegitimate children, dwelling in an abode of wretchedness and want because the law has imprisoned the husband and father instead of allowing him to live with and protect them; on the walls of the White House, illuminated texts concerning the purity of the home and exclusiveness of love, taken from the president’s message to congress on the Mormon question; on the walls of the prison cell, the constitutional amendment forbidding the passage of laws abridging religious freedom. Title for the cartoon: Mormonism in Cleveland’s eyes, like the tariff in Hancock’s, a purely local question.Liberty, June 19, 1886.(172 ¶ 3)

Work and Wages sneers at the paradise of cheapness which Edward Atkinson and other economists boast, but which is achieved by the reduction of wages to a very low point, as a fools’ paradise. It is right. But its own paradise of dearness, to be achieved by the determination of individuals to pay more than the market value for products and thereby rob themselves, is equally a fools paradise, if not more so. For, while it is true, as Work and Wages claims, that cheapness is achieved at the cost of injury to health and mind and morals and therefore to productive power, it is also true, as the economists claim, that the payment of higher than market prices causes a loss of capital, stifles enterprise, and makes wages even lower than before. The wise men’s paradise is that in which the market value of products is equal to the wages paid to the labor (of all sorts) expended in their creation, and it can be achieved only by the total abolition of those checks upon the supply of capital which States have imposed and economists have justified for the purpose of keeping wages at a point low enough to sustain capitalists in luxury and yet not quite low enough to immediately kill the goose that lays the golden egg. In that paradise there will be no sentimental endeavor to pay high prices, but all will buy as cheaply as they can, the difference between that state and this being the vital one that then the unimpeded circulation of capital will enable labor to buy its wages for much less than it now pays for them. The tendency to cheapness of product being thus balanced by a tendency to dearness of labor, the displacement of monopoly and charity, those parents of pauperism, by competition and equity will give birth to an entirely new economic condition in which industry and comfort will be inseparable.—Liberty, May 28, 1887.(172 ¶ 4)

Jus, the London organ of semi-individualism, combats the doctrine that surplus value—oftener called profits—belongs to the laborer because he creates it, by arguing that the horse, by a parity of reasoning, is rightfully entitled to the surplus value which he creates for his owner. So he will be when he has the sense to claim and the power to take it; for then the horse will be an individual, an ego. This sense and power the laborer is rapidly developing, with what results the world will presently see. The argument of Jus is based upon the assumption that certain men are born to be owned by other men, just as horses are. Thus its reductio ad absurdum turns upon itself; it is hoist with its own petard.—Liberty, July 2, 1887.(172 ¶ 5)

In the silly speech which Colonel Ingersoll made at an informal session of the Republican convention at Chicago he declared that he favored protection of American industries because the Americans are the most ingenious people on the face of the earth. By the ordinary mind this will naturally be regarded as a reason why other people should be protected rather than the American. It requires the wit of an Ingersoll to see that it is either necessary or advisable to protect the ingenious against the dull-witted, the strong against the weak.—Liberty, July 7, 1888.(172 ¶ 6)

To Edward Atkinson’s perfectly sound argument that the present accumulation of money in the United States treasury does not constitute a surplus revenue, inasmuch as there are $250,000,000 of demand notes outstanding against the United States for the payment of which no provision has been made, Henry George’s Standard makes answer by asking if any private corporation would ever acknowledge that it had any surplus revenue if it possessed an unlimited power of levying taxes on sixty odd millions of people. If Mr. Atkinson were not as blind as Mr. George himself to the wickedness of this power of taxation, he would doubtless retort with the question: Would any highwayman ever acknowledge that he had any surplus revenue if he possessed an unlimited power of robbing travellers with impunity?Liberty, July 7, 1888.(172 ¶ 7)

There are two things needed in these days, says sagacious Edward Atkinson: first, for rich men to find out how poor men live; and, second, for poor men to know how rich men work. You are right, Mr. Atkinson; and when the poor men once know this, the rich men will very speedily find themselves out of a job. It will be the greatest lock-out on record.—Liberty, August 4, 1888.(172 ¶ 8)