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spiritual appeal of the job.” It cannot be got when work is too monotonous, too hard, too disagreeable, or. carried on amid too disagreeable surroundings.
In spite of the unpleasant and unhygienic working conditions that still so largely persist, this is a point in which America is taking the lead. There are al. ready a great many factories and business houses that are healthful and delightful places to work in; and their number is increasing yearly. Needless to say, in such concerns the employees are very loyal and the labor troubles small. A Swedish industrial expert who recently visited this country has published a book whose title, translated, reads Joy of Work: Lessons from America. “At sight of all this beauty," she writes, “which enhances existence and makes labor lighter to the many workers, one feels that mankind has actually advanced."
It should be needless to add that work in America must be made as free as possible from preventable injuries. We have been incredibly careless in this respect. In our mines and on our railways we kill and injure two or three times as many employees annually as in the advanced countries of Europe. In our factories and mills, likewise, preventable accidents are far more frequent. During the nineteen months of our participation in the War, some fortyeight thousand American soldiers were killed or died from wounds. During that same period thirty-five thousand men, women, and children were killed in American industries. This casualty-list goes on, year after year, but little mitigated as yet by the reforms and legislation of the past few years. Yet most of these casualties are needless, and occur only because the expense of safety devices postpones their installation. But human life is costly, too. And the pro
duction of cheap goods, or coal, or transportation, at the expense of thousands of deaths and injuries annually is a shameful aspect of our American life.
To sum up, Equality of opportunity implies a society in which every able-bodied person does his or her share of the work that is to be done; in which every person is guarded from having to work too hard or too long, but given an opportunity to work continuously, a reasonable number of hours a week, during his working-life, at an occupation made as pleasant and as safe as American ingenuity can make it. Playtime and school-time for our children, care for our mothers and prospective mothers, employment for all, and such social pressure as will require that every one does his bit—that is surely the American ideal, the ideal that must be attained.
Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life.
of the Child-Labor Problem.
PROSPERITY FOR ALL
AMERICA is the most prosperous nation in the world. The rich are richer than anywhere else, and there are more of them. The poorer classes are, perhaps on the whole, better off here than in any other land; perhaps better off than at any other period in the world's history. There are here at least no fixed social classes, no rigid barriers that make it impossible for the poorest youth to make his way to fortune. Nor is there, perhaps, any land where wealth carries with it less prestige. We have no first, second, and third class railway carriages and waiting-rooms. Except for certain snobbish smart sets, which are not representative of the true American spirit, a genuine sense of social equality has persisted since pioneer days. The rich man is the lucky fellow; but, in general, we feel that he is one of us and wish him well. It has never been an implication of our ideal of Equality that wealth or income should be equally distributed. He may take who can get; and so long as the race is open on equal terms to all, we shall take the other man's success in a sporting spirit.
It is a grave question, however, whether this atti. tude can be maintained much longer if inequality of wealth and manner of life continues to be more and more marked. We have developed during the past few decades what is commonly called a plutocracy; that is, a comparatively small group of people who have vastly greater wealth than the great body of the people, and proportionate power over industry, and even over politics, journalism, and education. The wealth of our prosperous land is being divided far more unevenly than it used to be; a much sharper line separates the rich from the poor. Discontent is raising its head among what are sometimes called the "disinherited classes"; not so much because of socialistic or Bolshevist propaganda—these doctrines are exotic on our shores, and make no very widespread appeal—but out of a natural desire for a fair share of the good things of life. We must, therefore, seriously consider whether some modification of the present inequality in the distribution of wealth is not demanded by our ideal of Equality.
There are various estimates as to the present distribution of the wealth of the country. One statistician declares that one per cent of our people own eighty-five per cent of the national wealth. A far more conservative estimate is that of the United States Industrial Commission of 1915, which reported that two per cent of the population own sixty per cent of the national wealth; another thirty-three per cent own thirty-five per cent, and the remaining sixtyfive per cent of the people own but five per cent of the total wealth of the country. One man gets an annual income said to be in the neighborhood of fifty million dollars-an income equal to that of fifty thousand poorly-paid laborers. Or, to put it another way, it would take one of the laborers fifty thousand years to earn what this man gets in a single year. The twenty-five or thirty biggest fortunes in the country probably amount to five billion dollars; and, according to an estimate in the New York Times in
1920, one hundred and sixty-two men have annual incomes of a million dollars or more apiece.
On the other hand, the incomes of our poorer families are sadly inadequate for the maintenance of a minimum American standard of living. As prices go in 1921, $1,500 a year, or thereabouts, is necessary to maintain the average family of five in even a moderate degree of comfort. Yet probably fifty per cent of the families in the country receive less than that. Reliable recent figures are hard to get. But in 1919, an investigation by Dr. Harris, of the New York City Health Department showed that twenty per cent of the thousands of poor families investigated in that city had an income of less than $600 a year! Thirty per cent had less than $900. In Massachusetts, in 1917, more than half the men in the industries of the State received less than $20 a week-$1,000 a year. Of the women workers, about a third received less than $10 a week. In Baltimore in 1918, seventy-six per cent of the working women and girls were receiving less than $10 a week. The Interchurch Report on the Steel Strike, in 1920, reported that the annual earnings of seventy-two per cent of the steel workers (who, with their families, aggregate three quarters of a million people) "were, and had been for years, below the level set by Government experts for families of five."
The most serious aspect of the matter is that in recent years the situation has been growing distinctly worse. Father Ryan, in 1906, estimated that between sixty and seventy per cent of American laborers were getting less than a living wage which he then set at the very low figure, $600. The cost of living in 1921 is probably, for the whole country, nearly a hundred per cent higher than then. And in spite of a good