22 April 2013

Not a Reasonable Life

Henry George (1839-1897), The Crime of Poverty; An Address Delivered in the Opera House, Burlington, Iowa, April 1, 1885 (Cincinnati: The Joseph Fels Fund, 1910), pp. 12-13:
Here is a man working hour after hour, day after day, week after week, in doing one thing over and over again, and for what? Just to live. He is working ten hours a day in order that he may sleep eight, and may have two or three hours for himself when he is tired out and all his faculties are exhausted. That is not a reasonable life; that is not a life for a being possessed of the powers that are in man, and I think every man must have felt it for himself. I know that when I first went to my trade I thought to myself that it was incredible that a man was created to work all day long just to live. I used to read the Scientific American, and as invention after invention was heralded in that paper, I used to think to myself that when I became a man it would not be necessary to work so hard. But, on the contrary, the struggle for existence has become more and more intense. People who want to prove the contrary get up masses of statistics to show that the condition of the working classes is improving. Improvement that you have to take a statistical microscope to discover does not amount to anything.