In the Encyclical however you commend the application to the ordinary relations
of life, under normal conditions, of principles that in ethics are only to
be tolerated under extraordinary conditions. You are driven to this assertion
of false rights by your denial of true rights. The natural right
which each man has is not that of demanding employment or wages from another
that of employing himself — that of applying by his own labor to the
inexhaustible storehouse which the Creator has in the land provided for all
men. Were that storehouse open, as by the single tax we would open it, the
natural demand for labor would keep pace with the supply, the man who sold
labor and the man who bought it would become free exchangers for mutual advantage,
and all cause for dispute between workman and employer would be gone. For
then, all being free to employ themselves, the mere opportunity to labor
would cease to seem a boon; and since no one would work for another for less,
all things considered, than he could earn by working for himself, wages would
necessarily rise to their full value, and the relations of workman and employer
be regulated by mutual interest and convenience.
This is the only way in which they can be satisfactorily regulated.
Your Holiness seems to assume that there is some just rate of wages that
employers ought to be willing to pay and that laborers should be content
to receive, and to imagine that if this were secured there would be an end
of strife. This rate you evidently think of as that which will give working-men
a frugal living, and perhaps enable them by hard work and strict economy
to lay by a little something.
But how can a just rate of wages be fixed without the “higgling of
the market” any more than the just price of corn or pigs
or ships or paintings can be so fixed? And would not arbitrary
case as in the other check that interplay that most effectively
promotes the economical adjustment of productive forces? Why
of labor, any more than buyers of commodities, be called on
to pay higher
in a free market they are compelled to pay? Why should the
sellers of labor be content with anything less than in a free
they can obtain?
should working-men be content with frugal fare when the world
is so rich? Why should they be satisfied with a lifetime of
the world is so beautiful? Why should not they also desire
to gratify the higher
instincts, the finer tastes? Why should they be forever content
to travel in the steerage when others find the cabin more enjoyable?
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