Economic Effects.It is impressive to visit a large industrial plant. Whether in a steel mill, an automobile factory, a packing house, or a printing press, the visitor stands in awe at the precision with which machinery functions. On and on run the conveyor belts, backwards and forwards go the rollers, up and down the stampers. The rhythm of work beats as a metronome of production. If the observer has any imagination he will do more than see the operation of the factory. He will wonder about the results of all this activity, and he will concern himself with the problems arising. He may even for the moment imagine himself in the shoes of the man at the top, facing the situations which the industrialist must invariably meet.
The technological base of modern manufacture has been outlined in Chapter II. Generally speaking, the economic effects of technological advance in manufacturing processes touch multiple phases of life. More directly, the impact of technology leads to a redistribution of costs and methods of production. This may bring a readjustment of working conditions and requirements, a saving of labor or of capital, a cheapening or perfecting of the goods produced—or it may even bring the creation of quite a new commodity. These modifications are of primary concern to the industrialist, although they are also of vital interest to labor and the consumer. Some inventions in production result in a combination of all of the above effects; others initiate only one or two of the innovations mentioned.
The industrialist is swayed by the whirl of machine processes. In a sense it is he who directs their motions; in a sense