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What Makes the Rate of Wages?

What Makes the Rate of Wages?

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Excerpt from What Makes the Rate of Wages?: And Submitted at the Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Held in Montreal, Canada, August 28, 1884; Also Presented by Title at the Meeting of the American Social Science Association, Held in Saratoga, September, 1884

It may happen that one whose life from very early years has been of necessity mainly devoted to active business and to practical affairs, will be found as well qualified to treat the momentous questions which are the subjects of the following essays as students or practised writers whose pursuits are far removed from the actual work of providing for the material wants of men. But if this do not prove to be the case, yet the business man who puts the results of his observations into a simple form, easy of comprehension, may yet aid those who are more competent than himself in evolving a knowledge of the higher laws upon which the very existence of society depends.

A true commercial and economic history of nations, or even of the English-speaking people, remains to be written. "How did these people get their living?" is the question which every practical man asks when reading about the struggles of dynasties, the narrative of wars and battles and the records of debates of legislative bodies, which constitute the chief material of history. Even when he reads such history with intelligent comprehension, he cannot fail to observe that no matter how each great struggle has begun whether incited by religious enthusiasm, by personal ambition, or by the uprising of an oppressed people, in the end it has almost always been the commissariat that has controlled events. Power has fallen not so much to the strongest battalions and to the heaviest guns, as to those who could sustain the battalions longest, and support them with bread and meat as well as with powder and iron.

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