Imágenes de páginas

manufacture practically on the sea-shore, whereas other nations are greatly hampered by being compelled to manufacture far inland. Besides, Great Britain possesses a gigantic and invaluable undeveloped estate in her vast Dominions and Colonies. Great Britain and the British Empire have absolutely unlimited resources which are partly not exploited at all, and partly quite insufficiently utilised.

The greatest resource of every nation is, in Colbert's words, the labour of the people. Unfortunately, the labour of the British people is very largely wasted. If we compare the productivity of labour in this country and in the United States, we find, incredible as it may sound, that American labour is about three times as efficient as is British labour, that one American worker produces approximately as much as do three British workers. This assertion can be proved by means of the British and the United States censuses of production. The British census of production refers to the year 1907 and the American census to the year 1909. The two years lie so near together that one may fairly compare the results given. There is, of course, a difficulty in comparing the efficiency of British and American labour. In the first place the industries in the two countries have not always been officially classified in the same manner. Therefore many industries, such as the iron industry, cannot be compared by means of the census figures. In the second place the qualities of American and British produce frequently differ widely. These considerations have necessarily narrowed the range of comparable figures. The following table contains statistics relating to some British and American industries which may fairly be compared. They will show conclusively that in many of the comparable industries the American workers produce approximately three times as large a quantity of goods as do their English colleagues, and that they succeed in producing three times as much, not because they work three times as hard, but because, as is also shown in the table, the United States use in the identical industries approximately three times as much horse-power per thousand men as does Great Britain. The following figures are extracted from a fuller table which appeared in an article of mine published in The Fortnightly Review for August 1913, to which I would refer those who desire further details. They were much discussed at the time, but they have hitherto not been successfully challenged.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]


£ 171 516



Boots and Shoes :

£ United Kingdom 20,095,000 117,565 20,171 172

United States 102,359,000 198,297 96,302 486 Cardboard Bores :

United Kingdom 2,067,000 19,844 2,288 114

United States 10,970,000 39,514 23,323 590 Cement :

192 472

158 484

296 662

United Kingdom 3,621,000 18,860 60,079 3,195

United States 12,641,000 26,775 371,799 13,873 Clothing :

United Kingdom 62,169,000 392,084 17,837 45

United States 190,500,000 393,439 65,019 165
Cocoa, Chocolate, and

United Kingdom 16,171,000 54,629 19,898

346 United States 31,437,000 47,464 46,463 980 Cotton Goods :

United Kingdom 132,000,000 559,573 / 1,239,212 2,214

United States 125,678,400 378,880 1,296,517 3,423
Clocks and Watches :
United Kingdom
613,000 4,448

550 125 United States 7,039,400 23,857 14,957 628 Cutlery and Tools :

United Kingdom 2,047,000 12,485 5,248 420

United States 10,653,200 32,996 68,294 2,069 Firearms and Am

munition :
United Kingdom 677,000 4,444 2,619 595

United States 6,822,400 14,715 17,840 1,214
Gloves :
United Kingdom 1,056,000 4,532

509 113 United States 4,726,200 11,354 2,889 256 Hats and Caps :

United Kingdom 5,256,000 28,420 5,142 181
United States 16,598,000 40,079 23,524 588


137 296

164 323

152 464

233 416

149 414

[blocks in formation]

Hosiery :

United Kingdom

United States
Leather Tanning and

Dressing :
United Kingdom

United States
Matches :

United Kingdom

United States
Paint Colours and

United Kingdom

United States
Paper :

United Kingdom

United States Pens and Pencils :

United Kingdom

United States Printing and Pub

lishing : United Kingdom

United States

United Kingdom
United States

9,127,000 24,977,800


14,575 56,162

4,012 1,754

[blocks in formation]

The figures given, which have not been selected for the purpose of 'making a case,' show irrefutably that the British manufacturing industries as a whole are almost incredibly inefficient. Wherever we look we find that the American worker produces per year approximately three times as much as does his British colleague. Even the British cotton industry, the premier industry of the country, is, both on the spinning and on the weaving side, not provided with the best labour-saving machinery, as I pointed out very fully in an article in The Nineteenth Century review some years ago. 1

1' Will a Tariff Harm Lancashire ?-A Lesson from America,' The Nineteenth Century and After, August, 1912.

The comparison of production per wage-earner per year in England and the United States is based upon wholesale prices. It is true that the shop prices of many commodities are higher in the United States than in England. However, this difference is due very largely to the fact that the American retailers require a larger profit because they have larger expenses, and because the business of distribution is more costly in the United States than here because distances are greater. In most cases the wholesale prices of comparable commodities are nearly identical in both countries. The fact that the American workers produce on an average approximately three times as much as their British colleagues employed in the same industries can therefore not be gainsaid.

It is, of course, generally known that in many cases American workers employ far more perfect machinery than do their British colleagues, but it is not generally known, and it seems almost unbelievable, that the American workers employ, besides better machinery, about three times as much power as do the British workers engaged in the same trades. If we allow for the fact that the American industries possess not only better machines, but in addition three times as much power with which to drive them, it is obvious that the mechanical efficiency of the American industries is considerably more than three times as great as that of the corresponding British industries.

At the time when Great Britain was the workshop of the world, McCulloch wrote in his ‘Account of the British Empire': A given number of hands in Great Britain perform much more work than is executed by the same number of hands almost anywhere else.' That statement, which was true in the middle of the last century, is true no longer. Unfortunately the British industries have become lamentably inefficient, not only in comparison with those of the United States, but of Germany and of other countries as well. The greatest asset of a State is its man-power. Much of the British man-power is wasted. By Americanising the British manufacturing industries we can obviously double and treble the national output, and can thus double and treble the national income. That has been made abundantly clear by my analytical comparison.

The lamentable inefficiency of British production is apparent not only in manufacturing, but in agriculture and mining as well. The Coal Tables of 1912, published

. by the British Board of Trade in March, 1914, contain many interesting figures relating to coal production in England and abroad. Coal is the bread of the manufacturing industries. Its importance to the nation can scarcely be exaggerated. Let us see how British coal production compares with coal production elsewhere.

Tons of Coal Produced per Annum per Person Employed.

[blocks in formation]

It will be noticed that the coal production per man per year is almost twice as large in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada as it is in the United Kingdom, and that it is almost three times as large in the United States as it is in this country. This startling difference can only partly be explained by the fact that in many cases the coal seams are thicker in the United States than in Great Britain, and are to be found at a lesser depth. This startling discrepancy in output is largely, if not chiefly, ascribable to this, that the British miner, as the British industrial worker,

1 Strike year.

« AnteriorContinuar »