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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 4

The Difficulty

The Difficulty.

The impoverishment of the people through an inability to earn, has curtailed consumption and markets, while the ever-increasing productiveness of improved machinery constantly adds to the embarrassment. To-day, one man does what would have been the work of a hundred, fifty years ago. The steam-power of seven tons of coal is sufficient to make 33,000 miles of cotton thread in ten hours, while, without machinery, this would equal the hand-labor of 70,000 women! Consumption does not keep pace with the production by machinery. Markets become glutted. Unhealthy competition, struggling for life, establishes unprofitable prices. Then, the spindles, the workshops, the counting-houses are brought to a stand-still, and labor is left to wait as best it may, through idleness and distress, until consumption has overreached production, and new life is infused into a profitable industry.

These uneven pulsations of idleness follow in continuous succession. Now exhausted markets stimulate excessive production to supply urgent wants, and then the quick action of machinery paralyzes these markets. By further perfecting machinery, without enlarging markets to cause a more general consumption by the whole people, financial depressions will always be increasingly aggravated.