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LABOR AND THE
With the Full Text of the Revised
Compiled on the first day of the Workers' New Yar
and Liberty - May 1st, 1919
LABOR AND THE
LABOR-THE PLAIN PEOPLE.
Those who work have always constituted a majority of the people in any organized society. To-day, nine-tenths of the adult population is employed at some productive or useful occupation.
Editors and public men use the term “middle class” as though the members of this class constituted a majority or at least a very large minority of the American population. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The middle class in any modern nation is but a tiny fraction of the whole.
The latest detailed figures published by the United States Commissioner of Internal Revenue (1916) show that while the total population of the United States was about 102 millions, less than half a million individuals paid income taxes. The minimum at that time was $3,000 for single individuals and $4,000 for persons with dependants. The total number who declared incomes in excess of these amounts was 429,401 or less than one in 200 of the entire population. Of these, 157,149 declared incomes of less than $5,000 and only 121,691 declared incomes of $10,000 and over. There were, of course, a number of farmers whose incomes “in kind” were not included in the returns. There were, doubtless, individuals who dodged the income tax. The figures, however, show what a tiny minority of the American people receive incomes that could be called “middle class."
The same fact appears from a study of the “Statistics of Occupation” published in connection with the United States Census. These figures show that in an ordinary industrial city the druggists, undertakers, grocers, butchers, manufacturers, corporation officials, superintendents, managers, lawyers, doctors, school teachers, dentists and all other members of the professional and business classes do not make up over one-sixth of the total number of gainfully occupied persons. In many cases they constitute less than one-eighth of the total.
This one-sixth or one-eighth, which, as a matter of occupation, might be classed as “middle class,” is not necessarily middle class when it comes to income. Many of the small tradesmen earn less than the going rate of day wages. Many lawyers and teachers are in the same predicament. A fact which accounts for the difference in proportion between the middle class as shown in occupational statistics, and the middle class as shown in income figures. Even when the entire business and professional group is lumped together, however, without any reference to income, it makes a very small part of the total population.
The vast majority of people, who do not make income tax returns; the wage earners and clerks who are not included in the business and professional class;
the farm laborers, the tenant farmers and many farm owners make up the body of what is sometimes called the "plain people.” Most of these plain people work for their living as wage earners.
The relation which has grown up in modern industry between officials and wage-workers is startling. The latest report of the United States Census dealing with the manufacturing industries (1914, page 427) shows that the total number of persons engaged in manufacturing was 8,263,153. Of this number only 61 in 1,000 were proprietors and officials; the clerks and other subordinate salaried employees made up 88 in each 1,000; the wage earners, 851. Thus 17/20 of those engaged in the manufacturing industries in
the United States are wage earners, and 19/20 are wage earners and clerks.
The facts are brought out even more emphatically by an examination of particular industries. In the cotton goods industry and similar highly concentrated industries, the wage earners make up over 95 per cent. and the wage earners and clerks over 98 per cent. of the total number of occupied persons. The latest figures for the railroad industry are as follows: General officers, 5,740; other officers, 11,153; office clerks, 87,106; total employees, 1,710,296. Here general officers are about 3 in 1,000 and general and minor officers 10 in 1,000, or 1 per cent. of the whole. Wage earners and clerks make up the other 99 per cent.
The census figures show 12,659,000 persons occupied in agricultural pursuits. Of this number over half are hired laborers. Of the remainder the vast majority are working farmers.
The United States is made up of people who work as wage earners or farmers. The overwhelming majority of the population falls into this class. The plain people of the United States are the working people. Any matter, therefore, of national or international importance must, in the final analysis, rest back upon this question,—Will it benefit labor ?
The League of Nations has been suggested as a remedy for the critical situation in which the world finds itself to-day. Every thinking person, interested in the greatest good for the greatest number, must ask,—Will the League of Nations benefit labor ?
WHAT IS THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS ? The League of Nations, according to the “Covenant” published on April 28, 1919, and adopted unanimously by the Peace Conference, is an organization of 32 nations, in which 13 other nations are invited to membership.