"La unidad sindical atenta contra los principios liminares del Proceso."
Harguindeguy, Albano. «Crónica periodística». Clarín 20 de abril de 1979
An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations.
Adam Smith - 1864 - 429 páginas; hacer clic aquí.
An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations: ...
Adam Smith, Germain Garnier (comte) - 1852 - 429 páginas, hacer clic aquí.
OF THE WAGES OF LABOUR.
The produce of labour constitutes the natural rccompence or wages of labour.
In that original state of things which precedes both the appropriation of land and the accumulation of stock, the whole produce of labour belongs to the labourer. He has neither landlord nor master to share with him.
Had this state continued, the wages of labour would have augmented with all those improvements in its productive powers, to which the division of labour gives occasion. All things would gradually have become cheaper. They would have been produced by a smaller quantity of labour ; and as the commodities produced by equal quantities of labour would naturally in this state of things be exchanged for one another, they would have
| the landlord demands a share of almost all the produce which the labourer can either rai^e or collect from it. His rent makes the first deduction from the produce of the labour which is employed upon land.
It seldom happens that the person who filb the ground has wherewithal to maintain himself till he reaps the harvest. His maintenance is generally advanced to him from the stock of a master, the farmer who employi him, and who would have no interest to employ him, unless he was to share in the produce of his labour, or unless his stock was to be replaced to him with a profit. This profit makes a second deduction from the produce of the labour which is employed upon land.
The produce of almost all other labour is liahh- to the like deduction of profit. In all arts and manufactures, the greater part of the workmen stand in need of a master, to advance them the materials of their work, and their wages and maintenance, till it be completexi. He shares in the produce of their la
buen purchased likewise with the produce of jlour, or in the value which it adds to the ma
a smaller quantity.
But though all things would have become Cheaper in reality, in appearance many things might have become dearer, than before, or have beenexchanged for a greater quantity of other goods. Let us suppose, for example, that m the greater part of employments the productive powers of labour had been improved to tenfold, or that a day's labour cuuld produce ten times the quantity of work which it had done originally ; but that in a particular employment they had been improved only to double, or that a day's labour could produce only twice the quantity of work which it had done before. In exchanging the produce of a day's labour in the greater part of tmployments for that of a day's labour in this particular one, ten times the original quantity of work in them would purchase only twice the original quantity in it. Any particular quantity in it, therefore, a pound weight, for example, would appear to be five times dearer than before. In reality, however, it would be twice as cheap. Though it required five times the quantity of other goods to purchase it, it would require only half the quantity of labour either to purchase or to produce it. The acquisition, therefore, would be twice as easy as before.
But this original state of things, in which
terials upon which it is bestowed ; and in this share consists Ыз profit.
It sometimes happens, indeed, that a single independent workman has stock sufficient both to purchase the materials of his work, and to maintain himself till it be completed. He is both master and workman, and enjoys the whole produce of his own labour, or the whole value which it adds to the materials upon which it is bestowed. It includes what are usually two distinct revenues, belonging to two distinct persons, the profits of stock, and the wages of labour.
Such cases, however, are not very frequent ; and in every part of Europe twenty workmen serve under a master for one that is independent , and the wages of labour are everywhere understood to be, what they usually are, when the labourer is one person, and the owner of the stock which employs him another.
What are the common wages of labour, depends everywhere upon the contract usually made between those two parties, whose interests are by no means the same. The workmen desire to get as much, the masters to give as little, as possible. The former are disposed to combine in order to raise, the latter in order to lower, the wages of labour.
It is not, however, difficult to foresee which of the two parties must, upon all ordinary oc
the labourer enjoyed the whole produce of bis casions, have the advantage in the dispute, own labour, could not last beyond the first in- and force the other into a compliance with traduction of the appropriation of land and their terms. The masters, being fewer in num. the accumulation of stock. It was at an end, I ber, can combine much more easily : and the therefore, long before the most considerable law, besides, authorises, or at least does not
improvements were made in the productive powers of labour ; and it would be to no purpose to trace further what might have been its effects uponthe rccompence or wages of labour.
As soon as land becomes private property,.
prohibit, their combinations, while if prohibits those of the workmen. We have no acts of parliament against combming to lower the price of work, butmany against combining to raise it. In all such disputes, the masters can hold out much longer. A landlord, я farmer, a master manufacturer, or merchant, though they did not employ a single workman, could generally live a year or two upon the stocks, which they have already acquired. Many workmen could not subsist a week, few could subsist a month, and scarce any a year, without employment. In the long run, the workman may be as necessary to his master as his master is to him ; but the necessity is not to immediate.
We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters, though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon thisaccount, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constantand uniform, combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate. To violate this combination is everywhere a most unpopular action, and a sort of reproach to a master among his neighbours and equals. We seldom, indeed, hear of this combination, because it is the usual, and, one may say, the natural state of things, which nobody ever hears of. Masters, too, sometimes enter into particular combinations to sink the wages of labour even below this rate. These are always conducted with the utmost silence and secrecy till the moment of execution ; and when theworkmen yield, as they sometimes do without resistance, though severely felt by them, they are never heard of by other people. Such combinations, however, are frequently resisted by a contrary defensive combination of the workmen, who sometimes, too, without any provocation of this kind,combine, of their own accord, to raise the price of their labour. Their usual pretences are, sometimes the high price of provisions, sometimes the great profit which their masters make by their work. But whether their combinations be offensive or defensive, they are always abundantly heard of. In order to bring the point to a speedy decision, they have always recourse to the loudest clamour, and sometimes to the most shocking violence and outrage. They are desperate, and act with the folly and extravagance of desperate men, who must either starve, or frighten their masters into an immediate compliance with their demands. The masters, upon these occasions, are just as clamorous upon the other side, and never cease to call aloud for the assistance of the civil magistrate, and the rigorous execution of those laws which have been enacted with so much severity against thecombination of servants, labourers, and journeymen. The workmen, accordingly, very seldom derive any advantage from the violence of those tumultirbus combinations, which, partly from the interposition of the civil magistrate, partly from the superior steadiness of the masters, partly from the necessity which the greater part of the workmen are under of submitting for the sake of present
subsistence, generally end in nothing but the punishment or ruin of the ringleaders.
But though, in disputes with their workmen, masters must generally have the advantage, there is, however, a certain rate, below which it seems impossible to reduce, for any considerable time, the ordinary wages even of the lowest species of labour.
A man must always live by his work, and his wages must at least be sufficient to main tain him. They must even upon most occa~ sions be somewhat more, otherwise it would be impossible for him to bring up a family,, and the race of such workmen could not last beyond the first generation. Mr Cantillon seems, upon this account, to suppose that the lowest species of common labourers must everywhere earn at least double their own maintenance, in order that, one with another, they may be enabled to bring up two children ; the labour of the wife, on account of her necessary attendance on the children, be. ing supposed no more than sufficient to provide for herself. But one half the children born, it is computed, die before the age of manhood. The poorest labourers, therefore, according to this account, must, one with another, attempt to rear at least four children, in order that two may have an equal chance of living to that age. But the necessary maintenance of four children, it is supposed, may be nearly equal to that of one man. The labour of an able-bodied slave, the same author adds, is computed to be worth double his maintenance ; and that of the meanest labourer, he thinks, cannot be worth less than that of an able-bodied slave. Thus far at least seems certain, that, in order to bring up a family, the labour of the husband and wife together must, even in the lowest species of common labour, be able to earn something more than what is precisely necessary for their own maintenance ; but in what proportion, whether in that above-mentioned, or in any other, I shall not takeupon me to determine.
There are certain circumstances, however, which sometimes give the labourers an advantage, and enable them to raise their wages considerably above this rate, evidently the lowest which is consistent with common humanity.
When in any country the demand for those who live by wages, labourers, journeymen, servants of every L 'ml, is continually increas ing ; when every year furnishes employment for a greater number than had been employed the year before, the workmen have no occasion to combine in order to raise their wages. The scarcity of hands occasions a competition among masters, who bid against one another in order to get workmen, and thus voluntarily break through the natural combination of masters not to raise wages.
The demand for those who live by wage', it is evident, cannot mcrease but in propoitinn to the increase of the funds which are destined to the payment of wages. These funds are of two kinds, first, the revenue which is over and above what is necessary for the maintenance ; and, secondly, the stock which is over and above what is necessary for the employment of their masters.
When the landlord, annuitant, or monied man, has a greater revenue than what he judges sufficient to maintain his own family, he employs either Ihr whole or a part of the surplus in maintaining one or more menial servants. Increase this surplus, and he will naturally increase the number ofthose servants.
When an independent workman, such as a weaver or shoemaker, has got more stock than what is sufficient to purchase the materials of his own work, and to maintain himself till he can dispose- of it, he naturally employs one or more journeymen with the surplus, in order to make a profit by their work. Increase this surplus, and he will naturally increase the number of his journeymen.
The demand for those who live by wages, therefore, necessarily increases with the increase of the revenue and stock of every country, and cannot possibly increase without it. The increase of revenue and stock is the increase of national wealth. The demand for those who live by wages, therefore, naturally increases with the increase of national wealth, and cannot possibly increase without it,
It is not the actual greatness of national wealth, but its continual increase, which occasions a rise in the wages of labour. It is not, accordingly, in the richest countries, but in the most thriving, or in those which are growing rich the fastest, that the wages of labour are highest. England is certainly, in the present times, a much richer country than any part of North America. The wages of labour, however, are much higher in North America than in any part of England. In the province of New York, common labourers earn * three shillings and sixpence currency] equal to two shillings sterling, a-day ; shipcarpenters, ten shillings and sixpence currency, with a pint of rum, worth sixpence sterling, equal in all to six shillings and sixpence sterling ; house-carpenters and bricklayers, eight shillings currency, equal to four shillings and sixpence sterüng ; journeymen tailors, five shillings currency, equal to about two shillings and tenpence sterling. These prices are all above the London price ; and wages are said to be as high in the other colonies as in New York. The price of provisions is everywhere in North America much lower than in England. A dearth has neverbeen known there. In the worst seasons they have always had a sufficiency for them
i This was written in 1774, 'wfore the commencement ni the late rii?turbanres.
money price of labour, therefore, be higher than it is anywhere in the mother-country, its real price, the real command of the neces. saries and conveniences of life which it cont veys to the labourer, must be higher in a still greater proportion.
But though North America is not yet so rich as England, it is much more thriving, and advancing with much greater rapidity to the further acquisition of riches. The most decisive mark of the prosperity of any country is the increase of the number of its inhabitants. In Great Britain, and most oiher European countries, they are not supposed to double in less than five hundred years. In the British colonies in North America, it has been found that they double in twenty or five-and-twenty years. Nor in the present times is this increase principally owing to the continual importation of new inhabitants, but to the great multiplication of the species. Those who live to old age, it is said, frequently see there from fifty to a Immlred, and' sometimes many more, descendente from their own body. Labour is there so well rewarded, that a numerous family of children, instead of being a burden, is a source of opulence and prosperity to the parents. The labour of each child, before it can leave their house, is computed to be worth a hundred pounds clear gain to them. A young widow with four or five young children, who, among the middling or inferior ranks of people in Europe, would have so little chance for a second husband, is there frequently courted as a sort of fortune. The value of children is the greatest of all encouragements to marriage. We cannot, therefore, wonder that the people in North America should generally marry very young. Notwithstanding the great increase occasioned by such early marriages, there is a continual complaint of the scarcity of hands in North America. The demand for labourers, the funds destined for maintaining them increase, it seems, still faster than they can find labourers to employ.Though the wealth of a country should be very great, yet if it has been long stationary, we must not expect to find the wages of labour very high in it. The funds destined for the payment of wages, the revenue and stock of its inhabitants, may be of the greatest extent ; but if they have continued for several centuries of the same, or very nearly of the same extent, the number of labourers employed every year could easily supply, and even more than supply, the number wanted the following year. There could seldom be any scarcity of hands, nor could the masters be obliged to bid against one another in order to get them. The hands, on the contrary, would, in this case, naturally multiply beyond their employment. There would be a constant scarcity of employment, and the laboure«