In the Annals of America Volume 14, I read a piece by Kirby Page entitled Labor Policies of the United States Steel Corporation. In this article originally published in the Atlantic Monthly, Page adresses the disparity between the pay for laborers and the profit for the company. Although he doesn’t address the risk factor that the capitalist accepts, he asks some very important questions in his conclusion.
1. Should labor be regarded as a commodity to be purchased at the lowest possible rate, or should the cost of maintaining a decent and comfortable standard of life be used as the basis of determining the lowest rates of wages.
2. What are the costs to society of driving mothers and children under sixteen into industry because of the inadequacy of the father’s wage?
3. Is invested capital ethically entitled (the Chairman of the Board of Directors of USSC used that specific word) to an annual return of 13 percent, or even ten percent, if this involves the payment of inadequate wages to unskilled workers?
4. What should be our attitude toward overcapitalization, the “watering” of stock, and the concealing of profits?
5. What should be our attitude toward employers who hold in their hands an enormous concentration of economic power, and who refuse to bargain collectively with their workers through representatives of the workers’ own choice?
Discuss among yourselves…I will give my opinion as the comments role in.