Social Aspects of Industry: A Survey of Labor Problems and Causes of Industrial Unrest

By S. Howard Patterson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
ECONOMIC PROSPERITY AND THE GROWTH OF THE NATIONAL INCOME

THE INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR

1. Ideal of Economic Prosperity. -- Prosperity may be defined as an abundance of economic commodities and services. National welfare consists of many other things than great national wealth, just as individual happiness embraces many other factors than an abundance of economic goods. Health, education, patriotism, spiritual and aesthetic ideals, moral and ethical values might be mentioned as necessary to national welfare and individual happiness. But these important concepts are immaterial, subjective, and difficult of common agreement or of exact measurement. They are not within the immediate province of the economist. Wealth, however, is objective, material, and capable of measurement. Again, national prosperity is an important element in national welfare, although it is not the only conditioning element. Similarly, a minimum of wealth seems necessary to the happiness and well being of most normal individuals.

It is generally conceded that America is a prosperous nation. Today, she is the creditor of the World. Nature has been very bountiful to the United States and our physical environment is characterized by numerous and valuable natural resources. Climate and soil are rich and diversified, and excellent waterways and rich mineral resources exist in abundance. Moreover, in spite of considerable waste, it may be said that America's adaptation to her physical. environment has been fairly satisfactory. Our inventive genius and capacity for industrial organization are famous. The intelligence and skill of our workers are probably as great as anywhere else in the world. Although productivity per acre is higher in those countries which practice a more intensive cultivation of the land, productivity per man is higher in the United States than in most other parts of the world.

Individual prosperity and national prosperity, however, are not synonymous. In a land of plenty a surprisingly large number of families live in poverty. In spite of our seeming prosperity a number of economic maladjustments exist which mar our national welfare and limit our national prosperity. The scientific method takes nothing for granted and attempts to ascertain the causes of such a situation. Moreover,

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