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The profits of public companies, foreign investments, railways, etc., assessed to income-tax in the United Kingdom in 1890-1 amounted to £127,735,206. The interest payable from public funds (rates and taxes) was, in addition, £ 49,226,720 (“ Inland Revenue Report," 1892, C-6731).
That these amounts are understated may be inferred from Mr. Mulhall's estimate of the stocks, shares, bonds, etc., held in Great Britain alone, as being worth £ 3,491,000,000, producing an annual income of upwards of £155,000,000 (“Dictionary of Statistics," 256). And Sir Louis Mallet estimates the English income from foreign investments alone at £100,000,000 annually (National Income and Taxation” (Cobden Club) p. 13). Nearly the whole of this vast income may be regarded as being received without any contemporary services rendered in return by the owners as such.
We have, however, to add the interest on capital employed in private undertakings of manufacture or trade. This is included with
wages of superintendence” in business profit, both for the purpose of the income tax returns and in ordinary speech. Mr. Giffen estimated it in 1884, apart from any earnings of personal service, at £89,000,000 (“Essays in Finance," Vol. II., p. 403).
The total amount of interest cannot therefore be less than £270,000,000. Adding hereto the rent mentioned in the preceding section, we have a total of € 490,000,000 for rent and interest together. This estimate receives support from Mr. Giffen's computation that the amount under these heads actually assessed for income tax was in 1884 £ 407,000,000 (“Essays in Finance," Vol. II., p. 401). It has often been stated by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue that large amounts of interest escape assessment, and it is well known that much is assessed under other heads.
The following diagram represents the proportion of the nation's income thus claimed from the workers, not in return for any service rendered to the community, but merely as the payment for permission to use the land and the already accumulated capital of the country.
VII.-PROFITS AND SALARIES. But those who enjoy the vast unearned income just mentioned cannot all be accurately described as the "idle rich," though they would forego none of it by refusing to work. If they are disposed to increase it by leading active lives, they can do so; and most of them adopt this course to some extent, especially those whose share is insufficient for their desires.*
When the members of this endowed class elect to work, they are able to do so under unusually favorable conditions. Associated with them in this respect are the fortunate possessors of exceptional skill in hand or brain and the owners of literary or commercial monopolies of every kind. These workers often render inestimable service to the community, and they are able to exact in return remuneration proportionate neither to their utility, nor to the cost of their education or training, but to the relative scarcity of the faculty they possess. (See Professor F. A. Walker, “ Principles of Political Economy.")
The numbers and total income of this large class cannot be exactly ascertained. It includes workers of all grades, from the exceptionally skilled artizan to the Prime Minister, and from the city clerk to the President of the Royal Academy.
It is convenient, for statistical purposes, to include in it all those who do not belong to the“ manual-labor class.” So defined, this
prosperous body may be estimated to receive for its work about £360,000,000 annually.t Mr. R. Giffen : total income less rent, interest, +
and wages of manual-labor class (“ Essays
the manual-labor class (“ Report of Indus
trial Remuneration Conference," p. 194) 300,000,000 Mr. Mulhall : income of tradesmen class only
(“ Dictionary of Statistics,” p. 246) 244,000,000
assessed to income-tax alone (“Essays in
180,000,000 * As the unearned income is not equally distributed, some of the participants are in comparatively humble circumstances ; but it may be observed that the “ manuallabor class,” or the poor, possess practically none of it, the total capital of savings banks, trade unions, benefit, building, co-operative, and mutual societies of every sort being only £185,036,591 in 1889 according to the Blue Book Report (see Fabian Tract No. 7,“ Capital and Land,” p. 8, where particulars are given), or less than 2 per cent. of the total accumulated wealth, and about £ 14 per head of the adult workers in the “manual-labor class,” even supposing the whole was owned by members of that class. Against this, too, must be set the debts of the laborers to shopkeepers and others, which amount, in the aggregate, to a considerable sum.
† Some of this might, from another point of view, be reckoned rather as interest on the cost of education of valuable servants of the community, and accordingly deducted from this total and added to that of interest. In forming this estimate allowance has been made, as in the previous computations, for the increase during the seven or eight years since the estimates quoted were formed.
VIII.—THE CLASSES AND THE MASSES. The total drawn by the legal disposers of what are sometimes called the "three rents" (onland, capital, and ability), amounts, therefore, at present to about eight hundred and fifty million pounds sterling yearly, or nearly two-thirds of the total produce. The following estimates, framed some years ago, support this view :
Mr. Giffen," Essays in Finance," Vol. II., p. 467 £720,000,000
753,000,000 Professor Alfred Marshall (Camb.), “Report on
Industrial Remuneration Conference," p. 194 675,000,000 The manual-labor class receives, on the other hand, for all its millions of workers, only some five hundred millions sterling :
Mr. Giffen, "Essays in Finance," Vol. II., p. 467 550,000,000
600,000,000 Prof. Leone Levi (as above)
521,000,000 Prof. A. Marshall (as above).
P.—Total produce ......
£1,350,000,000 W.-Income of manual-labor class
500,000,000 Income of the legal proprietors of the three
natural monopolies of land, capital, and ability £850,000,000
* These estimates, which are based on average rates of wages, multiplied by the number of workers, assume, however, reasonable regularity of employment, and take no account of the fact that much of the total amount of nominal wages is reclaimed from the workers in the shape of ground rent. Much must, therefore, be deducted to obtain their real net remuneration.
† In this connexion it may be mentioned that the total income of the charities of the United Kingdom, including endowments, amounts to £10,040,000, or little over I per cent. of the foregoing total. 62,040,050 of this, it may be added, is expended upon Bible societies alone (Mulhall, Dictionary of Statistics,” p. 78). The total cost of poor relief in 1890-1 was £10,565,756 (Statistical Abstract-C. 6718).
IX.-THE Two NATIONS. This unequal division of the fruits of the combined labor of the working community divides us, as Lord Beaconsfield said, into “ two nations," widely different from each other in education, in comfort, and in security: There is some limited central territory between, and some luckier few escape from the large camp in which their fellows are toiling to the more comfortable fortress of the monopolists, from which, on the other hand, others sink into destitution from extravagance or misfortune. But for the great majority the lines between these two nations are practically impassable.
It is not that this division is based on any essential differences in the industry or morality between individuals.
“Since the human race has no means of enjoyable existence, or of existence at all, but what it derives from its own labor and abstinence, there would be no ground for complaint against society if every one who was willing to undergo a fair share of this labor and abstinence could attain a fair share of the fruits. But is this the fact ? Is it not the reverse of the fact ? The reward, instead of being proportioned to the labor and abstinence of the individual, is almost in an inverse ratio to it; those who receive the least, labor and abstain the most (John Stuart Mill, Fortnightly Review, 1879, p. 226, written in 1869).
We have seen what the “two nations" each receive : it remains to estimate their respective numbers, and the following facts supply materials for this computation
(a) The Comparatively Rich. (b) The Comparatively Poor. It has been shown that the The manual-labor class number adult males without professed about 5,000,000 families. occupation numbered 407,169 in Mr. Mulhall, “Dict. 1881. This represents a popula
of Statistics," p. tion of about 1,630,000, all of whom
4,629,000 were living on incomes not derived Prof. Leone Levi, from any specified occupation.
Times, 13th Jan., The landlords (of more than a 1883; families
5,600,000 field or a cottage each) number Mr. Giffen, " Essays only 180,524, owning ten-elevenths in Finance," Vol. of the total area (Mulhall, “ Dic- II., p. 461; sepationary of Statistics," p. 266).
rate incomes ..13,200,000 The mortgage upon the industry Five and a-half million families of the community known as the live in separate houses under £20, National Debt was owned, in 1880, and of these four and a-half million by only 236,514 persons,* 103,122 in houses under £10 rental, notof whom shared in it only to the withstanding that the poor in the extent of less than £ 15 per annum great towns live in large teneeach (Mulhall, "Dictionary of Sta- ment housest (Giffen," Essays in tistics," p. 109).
Finance," Vol. II., p. 348). * These include many banks, insurance companies, foreign potentates, and others not to be included in the present computation.
† This includes, of course, the rural districts, where a comfortable house may generally be obtained below £20 annual rental, but more than a third of the population now live in towns, where the poor are often herded together in slums, yielding more than that rental per house.
·(a) The Comparatively Rich. (b) The Comparatively Poor.
Only thirty-nine out of every Nine hundred and thirty-nine 1,000 persons dying, leave behind out of every 1,000 persons (about them £ 300 worth of property (in- half of whom are adults) die withcluding furniture, etc.), and only out property worth speaking of, sixty-one per 1,000 leave any pro- and 961 out of every 1,000 withperty worth mentioning at all. out furniture, investments, or
" It appears . . . that one-half effects worth £300 (Mulhall, of the wealth of the United King. “ Dictionary of Statistics,” from dom is held by persons who leave Probate Duty Returns-p. 279). at least £20,000 (personalty) at The number of persons "emdeath" Mulhall, "Dictionary of ployed " at wages in the industries Statistics," pp. 278, 279, from Pro- of the Kingdom is placed at thirbate and Legacy Duty Returns). teen to fourteen millions, and this
The number of these is given includes over four million women. by the Commissioners of Inland Mr. J. S. Jeans, Revenue, as 1,129 in 1877: as Statistical Sociproperty is ascertained to pass by cty's Journal, Vol. death about every twenty years,
XLVII., p. 631, this gives a class of about 25,000 places the numpersons.
ber at about...... 14,000,000 The incomes of £ 150 per annum
Mr. Giffen, "Essays and upwards are only it millions in Finance," Vol. in number out of 164 millions II,p.461 (separate of separate
incomes (Giffen, incomes of man“Essays in Finance," Vol. II., ual labor class)... 13,200,000 p. 467).
Mr. Mulhall, “ DicMulhall estimates that there tionary of Stawere, in 1881, 222,000 families of
p. 246 the very rich, 604,000 families of (separate families the rich, 1,220,000 families of the of manual-labor middle and trading class : in all class)....
4,629,000 only about two million families Prof. Leone Levi, above the manual-labor class of Times, 13th Jan., nearly five million families 1885, (number of (" Dictionary of Statistics," P. workers in manual 246).
labor class in 1881) 12,200,000 It may, therefore, safely be con- Out of 10,464,255 males with cluded that the whole of the any occupation at all (see p. 4) £850,000,000 annually is now re- 8,180,000 were in receipt of wages, ceived by about 11,000,000 of the and belonged to the manual-labor population, giving an average in- class (Prof. Leone Levi, Times, come of £ 305 per adult man: about 13th January, 1885). two-fifths (£ 330,000,000; Mulhall, We may, therefore, certainly “ Dictionary of Statistics,” p. 246) conclude that the £ 500,000,000 is enjoyed by a small class of less allotted to the manual-labor class than 1,000,000 persons who have is shared among 26,000,000 peron an average £ 1,189 per adult sons and is about £ 38 per adult man whether they contribute any- (or £77 per adult male) annually. thing to the product or not.