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“No one can contemplate the present condition of the masses of the people without desiring something like a revolution for the better (Mr. R. GIFFEN,

Essays in Finance,” vol. ii., p. 393).





JUNE, 1893





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The annual income of the United Kingdom was estimated by the
following authorities at from twelve to thirteen hundred million
pounds sterling; or the population in 1881 being nearly 35,000,000,
about £ 35 per head, or £ 140 per adult man.* In 1840 it was about
£205, and in 1860 £ 26}, per head (Mr. Mulhall, “ Dictionary of
Statistics," p. 245).
Sir Louis Mallet, K.C.S.I. (India Office), £

1883–4, “National Income and Taxa-
tion" (Cobden Club), p. 23

Professor Leone Levi (King's College, Lon-

don), Times, January 13th, 1885 1,274,000,000
Mr. R. Giffen (Board of Trade), “Essays in

Finance," vol. ii., pp. 460, 472 (1886) 1,270,000,000
Mr. Mulhall, 1883, "Dictionary of Statistics,
p. 245, Income for 1882

Professor A. Marshall (Cambridge Univer-

sity), "Report of Industrial Remunera-
tion Conference," p. 194 (January, 1885),
"upwards of"

1,125,000,000 Since these estimates were made the net assessments to incometax have risen (1881-2 to 1890-1) by £83,092,622 (Statistical Abstract," 0–6718). Allowing for a corresponding rise in the incomes not assessed and in the wages of manual labor, we may estimate the income for 1891 at not less than £ 1,350,000,000. The population has risen from 34,884,848 in 1881 to 37,740,283 in 1891.

These figures (which are mainly computed from income tax returns and estimated average rates of wages) mean that the price in money of the commodities and services produced in the country during the whole course of a year was about £ 145 per adult man. + Most of these commodities and services were used up within that period in maintaining the 37,000,000 inhabitants, and Mr. Giffen

* It has been assumed throughout that one person in every four is an adult male, and that there are, on an average, five persons to each family group.

+ It may be observed that the estimated amount of money or currency in the country is about £ 130,000,000, or under £ 4 per head, including bank notes. Gold coin and bullion, between £80,000,000 and £100,000,000 ; silver and bronze, £15,000,000 ; bank notes, beyond gold reserves, £24,000,000 (W. S. Jevons, "Investigations in Currency and Finance," p. 272 ; Report of Deputy-Master of the Mint, 1889 ; Mr. Goschen's Speech on Second Reading of the Coinage Act, 1891).

estimates that about £200,000,000 is “saved" annually (“. Essays in Finance," vol. ii., p. 407). The bulk of this "saving exists in the form of new railways, houses, roads, machinery, and other aids to future labor.

For subsequent comparison the total is represented by the annexed figure :

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II.-WHO PRODUCES IT. The desirable commodities and useful services measured by this vast sum are produced solely by the “efforts and sacrifices” (Cairnes), whether of muscle or of brain, of the working portion of the community, employed upon the gifts of Nature.

Adam Smith “showed that labor is the only source of wealth.

. . It is to labor, therefore, and to labor only, that man owes everything possessed of exchangeable value” (McCulloch's “Principles of Political Economy,". part ii., sec. 1).

"No wealth whatever can be produced without labor" (Professor Henry Fawcett (Cambridge), "Manual of Political Economy," p. 13).

"That useful function, therefore, which some profound writers fancy they discover in the abundant expenditure of the idle rich, turns out to be a sheer illusion. Political economy furnishes no such palliation of unmitigated selfishness. Not that I would breathe a word against the sacredness of contracts. But I think it is important, on moral no less than on economic grounds, to insist upon tħis, that no public benefit of any kind arises from the existence of an idle rich class. The wealth accumulated by their ancestors and others on their behalf, where it is employed as capital, no doubt helps to sustain industry; but what they consume in luxury and idleness is not capital, and helps to sustain nothing but their unprofitable lives. By all means they must have their rents and interest, as it is written in the bond; but let them take their proper place as drones in the hive, gorging at a feast to which they have contributed nothing ” (“Some Leading Principles of Political Economy," p. 32, by the late John Elliott Cairnes, M.A., Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at University College, London ; 1874).


III.—WHO THE WORKERS ARE. Those who profess to be taking part in the work of the community were divided, at the census of 1881, into the following classes :


Females. Total.
Industrial ......


7,997,529 Agricultural...

2,435,569 215,108 2,650,677 Commercial

1,158,155 26,344 1,184,499 Domestic


2,088,668 2,406,536 Professional


941,862 10,464,255 4,716,848 15,181,103 Unoccupied, under 20 6,101,230 6,611,213 12,712,443 Unoccupied, over 20

407,169 6,584,133* 6,991,302

16,972,654 17,912,194 34,884,848 (Compiled from Reports of the 1881 Census for England and Wales, C-3,797; Scotland, C-3,657; and Ireland, C-3,365). The subsequent addition of nearly three millions to the total will have left this distribution substantially unchanged in proportion.

Among the professed workers there are, of course, many whose occupation is merely nominal. The number is swelled by the "sleeping" partners, the briefless barristers, the invalids, and the paupers, prisoners, and sinecurists of every description. Many thousands more have occupations useless or hurtful to the community; and others, as for example domestic servants, labor honestly, but for the personal comfort of the idlers, and they might therefore, as far as production is concerned, as well be themselves idle.

Nevertheless there were, in 1881, 407,169 adult men (one in twenty-one) who did not even profess to have the shadow of an occupation. Most of these form the main body of the idle rich, " the great social evil of .... a non-laboring class

a non-laboring class ” (J. S. Mill, “Political Economy," Popular Edition, p. 455).

It is clear that the labor of the workers is much increased by the presence among them of so large a proportion of persons who take no useful part in the business of life. The possible reduction of the daily hours of work has, however, been much exaggerated. Thus Mr. William Hoyle, writing in 1871, committed himself to the assertion that, "assuming every person did their share, a total of 14 hours' daily labor would suffice to supply us in abundance with all the comforts of life” (“Our National Resources," p. 56). It appears from the context that his calculation refers to a community composed exclusively of actual workers in the production of material necessaries, whereas in ordinary human societies about half the population is under the age of twenty, and more than half the adults are women mostly occupied in domestic duties. The 14 hours daily have, therefore, at once to be multiplied fourfold, and account is even then taken only of food, clothing, houses, and furniture. The whole calculation is indeed of little value, and has never been accepted by other authorities.

* Most of these are married women engaged in domestic work, although not so described.

IV.-How THE IDLE Rich LIVE. “Whence is their purchasing power derived ? It does not descend to them from the skies; nor is it obtained by submarine telegraph direct from California or Australia; nor is its presence exhaustively accounted for by the presence of certain figures on the credit side of their accounts in their ankers' books" (Prof. J. E. Cairnes, “Some Leading Principles of Political Economy," p. 31);

They live, in the main, upon the portions of the national product which are called rent and interest, by the legal

guarantee to them of the fruits of the labor and abstinence of others, transmitted to them without any merit or exertion of their own" (J. S. Mill, “Political Economy," Popular Edition, p. 129).

“ It is at once evident that rent is the effect of a monopoly " (J. S. Mill, “ Political Economy," p. 255).

“Monopoly, in all its forms, is the taxation of the industrious for the support of indolence, if not of plunder ” (Ibid, p. 477).

V.-RENT. The total “ gross annual value” of lands, houses, tithes, etc., as assessed for income-tax in 1890-1 was £ 199,299,608; the rents of mines, quarries, ironworks, gasworks, waterworks, canals, fishings, shootings, markets, tolls, etc., amounted to £26,734,888 ("Inland Revenue Report," 1892, C-6731). Many of these are far from being fully assessed, and the total “rent"'* of the United Kingdom must, therefore, exceed two hundred and twenty millions sterling, or nearly one-sixth of the total produce.

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

P.—Total produce, £ 1,350,000,000. R.-Rent, £ 220,000,000.

VI.—INTEREST ON CAPITAL. Interest is distinguished by economists from the rent of land on the one hand, and the "wages of superintendence," or other payment for services, on the other.

* In 1843 this total was (for Great Britain only) 695,284,497 ; in 1855 (for the United Kingdom), £124,871,885.

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