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vision and oversight to keep men from idling or blundering, and, finally, the hindrance of many by the fault or failure of one." 1

This is not proposed as a scientific definition, but of waste only as it affects, "the value of the laborer's services to the employer.

We define economic waste as the needless impairment, loss, or destruction of utility without equivalent gain.

It must be needless. If wrought by nature, or causes beyond man's control, it cannot be regarded as waste in the economic sense, because it cannot be said to be needless. In the popular sense waste is loosely employed to include many losses of utility that cannot be avoided. In his recent unique and valuable treatise on "Political Economy" (p. 276), Professor Ely says, "The most important economic waste is caused by the death of man, the chief agent in production."

This conception of waste seems to us too wide. Death is natural and inevitable; man is in no way responsible for it. If economic waste can be predicated of death, it can be predicated of the blowing of the wind, the shining of the sun, or the motion of the ocean waves; for these all, frequently, cause the loss or destruction of utility; but they cannot be said to be needless, therefore they cannot properly be said to produce waste. To attribute economic waste to the operation of the irresponsible forces of nature, is in great measure to relieve man of responsibility, and to confound the distinction between natural or mental and moral philosophy.

Political economy is the product of the human mind, and as such justly places upon human society a large measure of responsibility for its phenomena. Among the causes of waste for which the capitalistic system is responsible, the following twenty are conspicuous.

1. Needless Railways.

The waste from this source is enormous. "There are very few roads," says Professor Arthur T. Hadley, "which could not advantageously handle a much larger traffic than The Wages Question," p. 48.

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they at present enjoy. If you attempt to do this on two lines instead of one, it is just so much waste."1 The relentless struggle between competing roads has frequently resulted not only in bankrupting the roads, but in carrying ruin to industries established along the lines and dependent on them.

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To this kind of competition the most villanous word in our language, namely, cut-throat, is applied and justified by the very essence of the competitive principle. If the two roads are equally matched in power and pluck, competition is perfect, the fight is terrific, and the ruin complete. Parallel lines of railways furnish conspicuous examples of waste. For example: the West Shore and the Nickel-plate roads run parallel from New York to Chicago $200,000,000 were wasted in their construction. This was "a sum sufficient to build 200,000 homes for a million people. Probably the waste in railway construction and operation in the United States during the past fifty years would be amply sufficient to build comfortable homes for every man, woman, and child now in the country."2 Thus speaks a thoroughly competent and disinterested witness; and it is one of the most scathing indictments ever brought against the capitalistic system. It is conceded on all sides that Socialism would put an end to this species of waste.

2. Needless Stores and Manufactories.

These are seen in every town of considerable size. "What is the need of so many stores in this place?" is the common-sense question every one asks till silenced in the high and mighty name of competition. Every one understands that the people in the community support its stores and shops. If two or ten stores exist where only one is needed, then the people must support two or ten instead of one. Should a merchant employ ten clerks, or a manufacturer ten workmen, when only one was necessary, or should a farmer keep ten horses to do the work of one, it would be regarded as proof of insanity.

1 "Private Monopolies and Public Rights," in the "Quarterly Journal of Economies," October, 1886.

2 "Political Economy " (Ely), p. 254.

But should not a community, an incorporate body of citizens, conduct business economically? Is it any less insane for a community to support ten stores when only one is necessary? We do not overlook the increased expenses of a store supplying ten times as many customers; but this is almost as nothing compared with the enormous waste of maintaining nine useless establishments. This, however, takes place in a single community. Reflect for a moment on the fact that, under capitalism, clerks and employers often have nothing to do half the time. Imagine the enormous aggregate waste on this account!

We have no statistics to help us in this matter; but when we consider the vast number of needless stores throughout the country, when we reflect that tens of thousands of proprietors and their families, that hundreds of thousands of clerks, that costly buildings, occupying valuable land, almost without number, are needlessly maintained by the productive laborers of the country, we may get some idea of the colossal waste from this source. Socialism would reduce the number of stores to the actual needs of society, and thus enable the millions who are now mere consumers to engage in production. What has been said respecting superfluous stores is true, though in a less degree of manufacturing establishments. It is claimed, however, that private has great advantages over public management of industries; that the latter is more extravagant and wasteful. This seems at first view plausible, and with many is conclusive.


Mr. John Rae says, "Capitalistic management is proverbially unrivalled for two qualities in which bureaucratic management is as proverbially deficient, economy and enterprise." Accordingly he says that "the probabilities all point to the conclusion that capitalistic management . . . is really cheaper than that by which Socialism would supersede it." Even if his first statement is true, his "conclusion" is wholly unwarranted. It assumes that the results of bureaucratic management under capitalism would be the same under Socialism where the conditions are entirely changed. He admits that Socialism involves the most radi1 "Contemporary Socialism," p. 360.

cal political and industrial changes, and yet he assumes that these changes would in no way affect the bureaucratic management as it exists under capitalism.

We shall show (page 368) that at present such management is apt to be a mere political affair. Large numbers of citizens feel no interest whatever in these products of machine politics. The political managers do not consult the people, and do not feel responsible to them. This state of things could not exist under Socialism, where all work would be under bureaucratic management; where the food, clothing, and shelter, in a word, the entire well-being of each individual, would depend upon bureaucratic management, and where, as a necessary consequence, every citizen would take the keenest interest in such management. Is it not reasonable to infer that bureaucratic management might fail now, where it would succeed under Socialism?

Having thus seen that Mr. Rae's statement, if true, does not support his "conclusion," we now seriously question its truth. Professor Ely says that when "services of a monopolistic nature are performed by the public. . . a better management is the result. It is only a popular superstition that private enterprise is superior to public enterprise." 1 From returns received by him from twenty American cities owning electric-lighting plants, he finds that the average cost of lights per night was less than fourteen cents, while seventy-five private companies in various cities charged over forty-two cents for a similar light, more than three times as much. He shows the superiority, as carriers, of the public post-offices over private express companies, both as respects promptness and courtesy. The same is true also of public over private management of the telegraph, gas-works, etc., as is seen both in Europe and in the United States.

The writer is personally acquainted with a number of the employees in the United States Armory at Springfield, Mass., and with its management. This is a governmental manufacturing establishment doing a large business. So far from there being any lack of incentive to effort on the

1 "Political Economy," p. 255.

part of employees, or any disadvantage from bureaucratic management, there is not only a careful avoidance of waste, and a sound economic administration in all departments of the business, but there is a marked degree of personal interest, pride, and fidelity in the workmen; and, what is more, the average character of the workmen, in intelligence, morals, and good citizenship, has long been a source of just pride in the entire community. In view of these, among other considerations, is there not some foundation for the belief that the Socialistic régime would render the industrial conditions so favorable for State management, that it would be cheaper than private management, and result in the saving of waste?

3. Needless Advertising.

Competition has given rise to a vast system of Advertising. Every person who purchases a commodity must pay an additional price on account of this expense. Advertisements are costly. Newspapers set them forth in flaming type; they are blazoned on barn walls and mile-boards; they meet us in hotels, street-cars, and on corners; in fact, everywhere: magnificent buildings, elegant furniture and fixtures, dazzling with electric lights; windows of expensive plate glass, and the most extravagant appointments; floors inlaid with silver and gold coins, gilded signs; and curious and costly devices arrest attention and woo the purchaser. The article purchased is covered with trade-marks, stamps, and labels, exquisitely wrought, and which cost frequently more than the article itself; and, lastly, it is wrapped in paper stamped with the name of the dealer, and sent to the purchaser in a delivery wagon covered all over with huge gaudy letters that can be seen from a distance of a quarter of a mile. This is expensive business. The writing of advertisements has become a profession. A compensation of $10,000 per annum is not unfrequently received by an adept for writing attractive advertisements. A proposed ordinance in the city of Boston, prohibiting the distribution of hand-bills on the streets, is opposed by the printers and paper-dealers of that city, on the ground that they would lose $500,000 thereby. Let it be remembered that

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