Page images

harvester, the thresher and the tractor; the housewife began to rest her weary hands and relieve her tired feet while electricity turned her washer and propelled her sewing machine; the business man found time to plan his business while the adding machine and the dictaphone relieved him of the old routine; the manufacturer turned his attention to co-ordination, to elimination of waste, to improved processes and methods, in place of superintendence of men. Production increased manifold and famine, so far as the advanced countries are concerned, became a thing of the past.

But while this progress has been made, there are certain aspects of the position of the wage earning class which makes their position more or less unsatisfactory. Dr. John Fitch enumerates three reasons for labor unrest as follows: (1) clashing interest between employer and employee, (2) tendency of modern industry to destroy the creative impulse, (3) the low status of the wage earners. All three of these are of fundamental importance and very difficult to remedy under the existing order. As long as an employer is an employer and a wage-earner a wage earner. there will come times when their interests clash for, however well they hold together in their relations with the consumer, the division of the spoils must always remain a delicate question between them. The tendency of modern industry to destroy the creative impulse is certainly an evil when it exists, and there can be no question that it exists in certain, industries to a considerable extent, and in nearly all industries more or less. But there has always been a great deal of necessary work to be done which has not been conducive to the creative impulse. It is true, no doubt, that the old artisan who took the raw material and finished the goods entire, took legitimate pride in the work of his hands," but it is also true that the man who runs a piece of complicated machinery, who knows how to adjust its every part, and who makes it respond to his care and manipulation, also feels a degree of attachment and pride which, if not so much of the creative type, is none the less real and satisfying. It is in the small, monotonous tasks which the division of labor las called into being, and which involve mere mechanical repetition with a minimum application of the intel-ligence that this is most pronounced. Perhaps the best hope for remedy lies in the very thing that has brought the task into being; i.e., the division of labor, which later on may be responsible for the elimination of the task altogether through the further extension of mechanical process. In the meantime reasonably short hours will constitute a remedy by permitting some leisure and additional interests. The third hardship which has fallen to the lot of the wage-earner is the lowly position he occupies, a position uncertain

1 This enumeration is taken from one of Dr. Fitch's iectures, delivered to a class in “Labor Problems” at Columbia University during 1921.


in tenure, unattractive in reward, and unfruitful in control over capital or ownership over property. In other words, he sells his labor to his employer who controls it and him, while he is disposing of it, for an amount which is sometimes below, often at, and usually a little above, the subsistence level. He owns little or no property.

Has the United Order anything to offer at this point? When the effort was being made in Missouri, pioneer conditions prevailed and an agricultural community was established so that the problems encountered were primarily of an agricultural type, but some commerce was engaged in, and a little manufacturing was done. The passage already quoted from the forty-second section seems to indicate that it was the intention that all should have a stewardship. “Every man shall be made accountable unto me, a steward over his own property.”1 If such be the intention, the question immediately arises: who is to do the work in "e factories, the clerking and office work in the stores, the unskilled work involved in construction and public improvements, etc.? If every married man is to have a stewardship, it appears at first consideration that only the unmarried of both sexes would be availr able for this work. Clerking is specifically mentioned. “And also let my servant, Sidney Gilbert, obtain a license (behold here is wisdom, and whoso readeth, let him understand) that he may send goods also unto the people, even by, whom he will

, as clerks employed in his service." Wage earners as contrasted with stewards are, therefore, definitely recognized as a part of the system. ' In a modern factory the directing force (president, board of directors, superintendent, manager, foreman, etc.) are few in number in comparison with the large body of workers. If the married men are all to be stewards and the unmarried only wage earners, will there not be a superabundance of stewards and a corresponding scarcity of workers? But here, as in the planning of cities, Joseph Smith builded better than he knew, for the United Order principle of stewardships applied to the wage system paves the way for what is probably the finel solution of the labor problem,

Joseph Smith knew little about the "factory system” of production. No mention is made, so far as I am able to determine, of any kind of stewardships which are not based on agriculture or have close connection with it. But let us attempt to apply these United Order principles to a typical modern factory and see in what direction it leads us. Suppose for our purpose, that an automobile factory is capitalized at $10,000,000. Let there be 1000 men employed in it. Instead of wages being paid these workers, let each possess a “stewardship” amounting to $10,000 worth of stock and let him receive monthly whatever dividends the net earnings of the factory make it possible to declare. This kind of an arrangement at once begins to clear the ground in labor's troubled field. Clashing interests disappear; the incentive to industry, on the part of the worker, is multiplied; the position of the wage earner is elevated and dignified. The United Order encounters no such obstacles as an undue proportion of stewards as opposed to wage earners. Rather, because of its provisions for centrtal direction, it should be able to find a productive place for each worker. There is little room in the Order for the propertyless wage earner. He practically goes out of existence.

1 Doctrine and Covenants, 42:32. 2 Ibid., 57:9.

But the United Order requires that we take account of some other things also. Let us postulate further that the community "standard of living" has been set at approximately $1,500.00 per year. If the automobile factory, after allowing a proper amount for repairs and replacement, shows a net earning of more than this amount for each $10,000 of stock, such surplus would go into the generai United Order treasury, there to be used for extensions, or for the declaring of further dividends to the holders of stewardships throughout the community. If the various factories in the community were prospering and the majority turned in a good surplus, it is easily possible that the stewards might receive a substantial amount in the way of special dividends from the surplus. As each man profited in proportion to the "fatness" of the surplus, his interest in it would grow and a very wholesome rivalry would develop between the different factories in keeping up their contributions to the surplus. In this way the standard of living in the community would grow and if perchance the community became wealthy might amount to several times the initial $1,500.00. Under these conditions the surplus would become highly prized and carefully guarded. On the other hand, it is easy to postulate conditions under which the surplus would become dissipated and would not redound to the advantage of those who contributed to it. Such a condition, if long maintained, would probably mean failure for the system.

Let us inquire here, further, whether the position of the wage earner would be materially improved from his own standpoint and also from that of the public. 1. He changes from a propertyless position to that of the ownership of enough property when worked by him, to provide the established standard of life. 2. His position is no longer menial. He does not sell himself and his efforts for a price. 3. He loses the deep-rooted

1 It would be going a little beyond the United Order, though not out of har. mony with it, to suppose that the work is carefully graded and that the foremen, managers, superintendents, presidents, directors, as well as clerical and office help, achieve their positions on

a "merit'

plan which takes account of training, ability, length of service, etc., and that all such and similar rules and regulations are determined upon by joint action of United Order officers and men within the factory and

not superimposed on the men from those above or from without the establishment.


antagonism which “clashing interest” keeps alive between employer and wage earner. The raison de etre of labor troubles ceases to exist in its present virulent form. 4. He acquires a personal interest in the welfare of the factory, for the double reason that he owns

a substantial part of it and further that the size of his income depends on the earnings of the factory along with the earnings of the other stewardships of the community. Bear in mind that the plan is a community one. The community is the unit. It is not the individual, nor the family, but the communiiy that is the craft which sinks or swims. If it sinks, all on board go down; if it floats smoothly through the troubled waters, happy are they who have taken passage. The steward holds a substantially more satisfying position than the wage earner providing the plan succeeds and a correspondingly less agreeable one if it fails. No economist is satisfied with the present status of the wage-earner, particularly the unskilled worker. But how to genuinely improve his position ?-that is the question.




It might have been suggested, in the discussion in the preceding section, that practical administration would demand that some substitute for deeding the inheritances to the members be found, a substitute which would give the officers of the Order sufficient control over each individual inheritance so that they could effectively demand the turning over of the surplus. Brigham Young sought to overcome this difficulty later on in Utah by means of incorporating the enterprise, but in so doing much of the individualism of the earlier plan was necessarily lost. It is through this provision of the system that the United Order as Joseph Smith established it, comes to stand midway between Socialism and present-day Capitalism. The United Order is based on the capitalistic, competitive system. It represents that system, modified in somewhat thoroughgoing fashion in the interest of equality. “Thou shalt not take thy brother's garment; thou shalt pay for that which thou receive of thy brother, and if thou obtainest more than that which would be for thy support (from the stewardship which belongs to the steward) thou shalt give it unto my Storehouse." Again, “thou shalt not steal" (private prop

'1 erty). The steward is not to be counted a cog in the wheel. He is to be an owner of property and of approximately as much property as anybody else. The proceeds of his industry are his up to that point where his "necessities and his wants" are satisfied. The balance only, he hands over to the treasury. In a real sense his family's welfare depends upon him for what they are to have, depends upon his industry. Likewise the community's welfare depends upon him also, for

for the common good is dependent upon the amount of surplus that he, along with his neighbors, can spare for the treasury. The call then to the individual is not simply one of self-interest but one of self-interest and social interest combined. Much of the vigor and the strength and the satisfying power of capitalism has been retained. The incentive to unlimited wealth acquirement is gone, and the viewpoint is somewhat changed, but the task ahead is still formidable, though there is a somewhat different type of call to service. Love of family beckons the steward on to industrious labor. When he has provided for family wants, community well-being steps in and supplants self-interest as the motive to further endeavor. Will he grow weary during the closing hours of the day?

[ocr errors]

1 Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 42:54-55.

2 lbid., Sec. 42:20.

« PreviousContinue »