Wages the Remuneration of Labor 1

ability, capital, opportunities, training, land, education, competition and employment

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Variations between groups are in some measure broken down as time goes on. Inventions reduce the status of the skilled worker to that of an ordinary laborer. Quick transportation makes new territory accessible to the more adventurous workman, and the temptation to enter new fields where wages dre high brings new workers into a group and enlarges its membership. In those occupations requiring a high g,rade of skill and training, the man of less oppor tunity and inadequate training finds himself held within a well-prescribed group, with seemingly no op portunity of entering a more agreeable occupation. When this is true, the group to which he is confined may be called a non-competing group.

The greatest g,roup of competing labor consists of the class whose members have no particular skill but who possess the ability to work and the willingness to make use of that ability. They are not skilled but they are capable of doing the rougher kinds of work. Into this group the "discards" from the other groups continually sift. Because the introduction of modern machinery has forced them out of employment, or because of misfortune or their own defects of char acter, they find themselves depressed into the great group of the unskilled. The competition is most sharp and the suffering from industrial breakdowns is greatest during periods of stagnation, when men in one group drop from their own occupation to an in ferior employment and tend to increase the competi tion in the lower group.

—We should, however, consider also the many spe cialized trades above this great mass of workers. Within these trade groups there is much competition, but scarcely any between the groups. Carpenters, bricklaye/rs, plumbers and blacksmiths do not com pete with one another. They are, in fact, cooperat ing groups. The trade-unions, thru the medium of uniform wages, have done much to reduce this com petition to one of place alone, and to naake the wages the same over a large area. Despite this precaution, however, a selective process goes on, because the em ployer, being compelled to pay the same wage to all applicants who bring the union ticket, attempts to distinguish between the efficient and the inefficient.

In the still higher groups, which include the smaller professional and business men and the highest class of directors, professional experts and business entre-. preneurs, there is less competition, because education and unusual ability are requirements for any who would hold a place in the groups. These require ments for success act as checks to the increase in numbers in such professions and trades. The unequal

opportunities for education tend to perpetuate this situation and to create a permanent distinction in the payments received for services.

In America, where the many opportunities offered by the country's vast resources have cleared the way to the accumulation of wealth by the ambitious, the number of members in the higher groups has been in creased by. the addition of those who have acquired great wealth. So long as the way is open to such ac complishment, the hard lines of class cannot prevent opportunity, and prizes are still to be_gained as a re sult of special training, wide outlook, courage, ability. ariaTeTsistence.

—It iTay the widest application of education, from the trades to the university, that can permanently keep open the way to the larger opportunities of the higher groups. Yet, without doubt, there are certain general conditions that apply to the payment of wages in all groups. Adam Smith stated these as (1) the agreeableness or disag,reeableness of the employments themselves ; (2) the ease and cheapness, or the 'diffi culty or expense, of learning them; (3) the constancy of employment in them; (4) the small, or great trust which must be reposed in those who exercise them, and (5) the probability or improbability of success in them.

7. Marginal worker in, wage Labor is the personal contribution that men make to production. The reward that they receive for what they do is determined by the value of their labor. As men vary- in their ability to do the work that is assigned to them, the variations are reflected in the product. It must be conceded that the conditions governing the supply of labor are very different from those gov erning the use of land and the amount of capital avail able for productive purposes.

There are, however, some fundamental facts that are the same for labor, land and capital. The owners of labor, power, land and capital must receive a re turn that justifies the use of them, for all are subject to the law of diminishing returns. In the employ ment of labor, the farmer must receive a return equal to the product created by the last "hired man" em ployed. New batches of capital, too, must bring a return sufficient to convince the owner that what he receives is at least equal to what he might earn else where. These are brief illustrative statements of the varying contributions made by the factors of produc tion. It is now necessary to ascertain the basic fac tor in the determination of wages.

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