"A Working Man," [communication], New York Sentinel and Working Man's Advocate, 1, 51 (August, 11, 1830), 1.
FOR THE NEW-YORK DAILY SENTINEL.
Messrs. Editors:—In one of your late Nos. you had an article on, in my opinion, one of the most important subjects that can occupy the thoughts or man, namely, the exchange of labor for labor. This is a subject which has engaged my thoughts, more than a little, for some months, and I long since came to these conclusions, that industry can never be fully rewarded but by a direct exchange, conducted on the principle of equal rights; and that if such a mode of doing business were generally put into practice, it would be the means of almost annihilating vice, since it is well known that many of our vices arise from the desire of amassing wealth, by which, we hope to save ourselves’ and our children from want, and to obtain that respect in society which is, unfortunately, accorded to the wealthy, however dishonestly they may have acquired their riches, and is too often withheld from the honestly industrious.
Who are they that create all the wealth in the world? The farmer, the manufacturer, and the mechanic. Who enjoy the least of it? Those who do the labor, and ought therefore to be richest.—How are they deprived of their just reward? By their ignorance they allow, and even assist, the speculating thousands to fleece them of their earnings: There are the wholesalers, and the retailers; the bankers and the brokers; the carriers to and fro, and the innumerable et ceteras, all adding to the cost without increasing the value; to do away with all these go-betweens, they ought so to locale themselves as that every man may dispose of his own productions directly to the consumer.
What should we think of that large family, or of that small colony, who, having the means of producing all their wishes could desire by the four or five hours daily labor of each individual, were foolishly persuaded by a part, to work 12 or 14 hours a day, and suffer a thousand corroding cares, leading to vice, and sometimes enduring want; and all this in order to allow a part of their society to live in idleness and wallow in luxury? Should we not think they were worse titan idiots? Yet equally foolish are the producing classes of all countries; in this country, however, they are beginning to open their eyes and to see that “all is not gold that glitters."
If to enjoy abundance through life be the desire of men, they can have it by three or four hours daily labor, on the principle of labor for labor; and it is only so much exercise as is necessary to health; and when put into practice there will no longer be seen, or seen only as the monuments of folly, the rich man’s palace and the poor man’s hovel, for every man may, if industrious, have a handsome house and beautifully furnished. If to enjoy all these comforts and also to hoard up “the root of ail evil,” or in other words, to put a viper in their own bosom, be the desire of the productive part of society, let them still exchange labor for labor, at home, as before, but in addition work six or eight hours a day more; they will then produce two or three times more than they can consume, which they can sell to any foreign country that will buy it, and as it may all be considered gain, so they may undersell even the English in their own ports.
In order to convince your readers of the benefits to ho derived from a direct exchange of labor, I will relate a short dialogue which took place lately between myself and a farmer.
Myself—What do you get for butter? Ans. 10 cents per lb. What do you give for soap? Ans. 12 cents per lb.
Farmer—What do you give for butter? Ans. 15 cents per lb. What do you get for soap? Ans. 5 cents per lb.
Here we discover that in the exchange of a lb. of butter for a lb. of soap and vice versa, the Farmer lot 5 cents, and the manufacturer 7: if the manufacturer makes only ½ cent on the soap at 5 cents, then, in this case, he lost 14-l5ths of his labor. If we suppose the butter to have coat the farmer, in expenses, 3 cents per lb., there remains 2 only for his labor, in this case, he loses 5-7ths of his labor. If the producing part of society were generally to make similar enquiries to the above, they would soon put an end to all speculation, or, as it may be called, roguery: and having done that, they would not need to petition the legislature for “Universal Education," they would have the means of education in their own houses; and the tables would be so completely turned on the non-productive, that they might have to become the petitioners, and the others be, in estimation, what they are now in reality, the nobility of the land.
A WORKING MAN