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Monotony and Industrial Unrest
Condensed from The Survey Graphic (Feb. 1)
HE Board of Aldermen in a certain town voted to increase the wages of milk inspectors. "What about the milk testers?" spoke up one alderman. "They're trained men, chemists, and they're worth more than inspectors." An effective answer was quickly forthcoming-"No! We don't have to pay them more. They won't quit. They like their work too much." Most discussions of the labor situation ignore the fact that contented men work not only for the wage, but also for the work. Ask the average man in the average plant: "Do you like your job?" Most will answer non-committally. Ask those who said "Yes" their reasons. Almost always it will be that the hours are good or the pay is good. The man is most unusual who says, "I like the work."
The primary interest of the average man has changed, under modern industrial conditions, from his work, to his time and money. His grandfather's day consisted of finishing the chair and beginning the table. His day consists of what lies between an 8 o'clock and a 5 o'clock whistle. Grandfather's work was a part of living. Now it is apart from living. His grandfather did good work because the work was a part of him, and a
job well done gave him a position in his world peculiar to himself. If the grandson does good work it is to keep from being discharged and to continue getting his pay.
2. There are, it is true, certain situations, even today, in which the worker is not a "hand," but a personality. But these situations merely illuminate the difficulties of the others. The locomotive engineer, for example, takes great pride in his job. He drives his engine and is not driven by it. On him rests the responsibility for the safety of a train, and keeping to the schedule. He exercises judgment, and is a person of importance. Most workers, however, do not guide When machines; they follow them.
a traveling belt carries parts to the assemblers it forces these men to perThe form their operations at once. use of the worker's intelligence is sharply circumscribed. The constant effort is to perfect machines so as to eliminate human judgment.
The "ideal" machine is one which calls only for periodic oiling, starting and stopping. The "instinct of mastery"as deeply seated and fundamental as almost any other in human nature-is denied expression. As a result, most human beings spend from eight to ten hours every working day of their lives doing what they do not enjoy. This is one of the fundamental reasons for the prevailing "unrest."
Another phase of this need left unsatisfied by work as it is carried on at present, is the need for appreciation-the desire of every human being to be respected and well thought of. The furniture maker 75 years ago was a person of relative importance in his community. Today all that is known of him is that he works in a furniture factory-one of the "hands."
turns out so many chair legs. His foreman may appreciate him, and perhaps his wife, but very few people else. His work allows no recognition of his personality-he is one of a large number of cogs. He has not even a complete rounded-out product for himself to take pride in.
3. Picture the executive with his busy, hard-working day, full of responsibility, variety and interest. Imagine him chained to a task which is simply a series of repetitive movements, hour after hour and day after day. Perhaps he did rise from the ranks, but 99 out of 100 do not rise, and the problem remains for them. Their desire for enjoyable work is just as great as his. That is why they loaf, and drift from job to job, and strike for shorter hours-so as to get more time to do the things they like.
Attempts to remedy the problem have generally taken the form of welfare work, such as ball teams, social organizations, the building up of "company spirit" or bonuses. Plainly, few who are weary of their jobs will stay because of a ball team, a picnic or "company spirit" built up by a company publication. The effect of bonuses, however, is great. But it has been found that after a time men become accustomed to their bonus, and that the stimulus of higher pay wears off. They grow to feel that the extra money is not a reward for increased effort but their rightful due for normal effort. During the recent period of highest wages and most numerous bonuses, per capita production was proportionately lowest.
4. In a general way, work which is "enjoyable" places responsibility on the shoulders of the person doing it and gives him a sense of his own usefulness or importance; also, enjoyable work has sufficient variety to keep it from growing monotonous. What classes of people find their work enjoyable? The greater proportion are, of course,
the professionals, executives from heads of organizations down to "straw bosses," and artisans: Salesmen are an outstanding example of a class whose work has sufficient variety to keep it from growing monotonous. Consider the typical commission salesman. What he finds is infinite variety, new situations hourly, a keenly competitive existence, wearing, it is true, but tremendously exciting. He too "gets a lot of fun out of his job." Counter selling is a good example of such work mechanized. The salesmen can no longer go out to get orders; the initiative is taken from him. Hence for a good outside salesman such selling approaches monotony.
The solution of the problem is of course much more difficult than the mere recognition of its existence. The mainspring of efficiency, enjoyment of the work, has still been untouched. And it appears that one of the largest factors in unreliability and inefficiency is the fact that the work itself is, and is becoming more and more, uninteresting, monotonous and distasteful. To go back to the days of the artisan is neither possible nor on the whole desirable. The question is entirely one of modifying present-day manufacturing processes and organization. Since inherent attractiveness is, with modern
methods of production, almost non-existent to the average factory worker, it is necessary that this deficiency should be compensated. A solution of the problem will perhaps be based on these considerations:
(1). Workers should be placed in a position commensurate with their mental ability. (2). As much responsibility as the worker can successfully bear, should be part of the job. (3). Wherever possible, the product of each man's work should be an entity in itself that will give the man a genuine feeling of having accomplished something when he has finished. (4). Where it is impossible to include the factor of responsibility in the work, and where the work must necessarily be the sake of divided, for production, it may be varied from period to period.
The American Parent and Child
Condensed from The Bookman (Feb.)
EALING with serious problems of life we always find ourselves carried around in a circular process. It seems impossible to settle one thing until another thing on which the first depends is settled. You cannot get well of your illness until you take exercise, but you cannot take exercise until you get well
The quality of our American civilization cannot be greatly improved until the American parent contributes more largely than at present to the moral and spiritual development of his child. But here swings the vicious circle. How can
we expect a nobler type of parent until we have exalted our materialistic civilization and the prevailing drive for social position.
This circular bugaboo is only designed to frighten those who seek excuses for leaving things as they are. It is good American doctrine that the way to face the parent problem is to do something constructive toward a solution of it. Everybody knows that our educational system does not produce the results we should expect. The average boys and girls in our schools and colleges drift along untroubled by a spark, are inaccurate, unimaginative, incapable of thinking things through, and morally and spiritually unformed not seldom malform
ed. Part of the failure of our educational institutions, however, is certainly due to the lack of cooperation on the part of the homes from which the children come. It often happens that the home is a positive handicap to the task in hand of forming a basis of mental and moral character.
Fifty years ago it was generally believed that a child inherited the
intellectual and moral gains of his ancestors. Today, almost all biologists believe that no traits physical, mental, or moral which an ancestor has acquired by his own personal efforts are ever transmitted by heredity to his offspring. How, then, does the child get his slow accumulation of mental and moral habits and customs, of speech and manners? He gets them through imitation, at first, of course, unconsciously. The child reacts to smiles and to sad expressions on the mother's face with no more consciousness than when he shuts his eye to avoid a threatening object. He is in fact almost as sensitive to suggestion as is the hypnotized subject. The man of fifty often, in fact generally, reveals little traits and habits of speech common to his family. Not less important is the stock of ideas and ideals, the psychology, the religious warp and woof which that same family is weaving into the fundamental structure of the child's mind by imitation and subconscious suggestion, working as silently the buds open into leaves. No educational influences can altogether reshape what the environment of the home has once for all shaped. The basic disposition, the springs and motives of action, the central nucleus of habits and customs are here laid down as a permanent foundation which can be rebuilt only with great difficulty. That subtle thing we call "atmosphere" is an immense element in the formation of the inner life of the devloping child. The spirit of the home is a thousand times more important than the explicit rules and commands that are enjoined. Materialistic aims, crude sentiments, unwholesome aspira
tions not only blight the lives of parents but they taint and corrupt the growing souls of children.
This thing of course works both ways.
These same forces may equally well form those inner tendencies that shape the gentleman. the scholar, the moral hero and the saint. Goodness is just as contagious as badness. The atmosphere of refinement and peace is as effective as is the atmosphere that makes for crudity and temper. Of course there are curious and trying exceptions to all our known laws of heredity and imitation, but the central fact remains on the average.
The life of every normal person is dominated by powerful mental complexes, i. e., organized systems of instincts, emotions, and tendencies toward action. These are usually formed early. A child who collects stamps forms a complex built around a centre of interest. Everything connected with stamps becomes interesting. All mail is inspected. Advertisements are scanned. Every visitor is solicited. Another child forms a butterfly complex and another has an autograph complex. These are superficial complexes. The vital ones which make us lovers or patriots or devotees of great causes, which line us up in parties or cliques and which settle whether we are to be caught in the maelstrom of the materialistic drift or be raised up on wings as eagles and soar with the idealists these are largely shaped by the estimate of values which reigns in the lives of the family circle.
There is certainly nothing better in this world than the intimate companionship of parents and children. When a child can discover no way to have fun without going to the neighbors, there is something missing from the full-rounded reality of home life. Better even than comradeship in play is comradeship in work. The wise and successful parent draws the child into the family activities, so that they become mu
tual tasks. But the parent can sueceed in these efforts at cooperation only by really feeling and thinking as a child does and by sharing truly the aims and hopes of the child. Once the mutual love spirit is formed the problem of discipline is solved, and happy cooperation and fellowship take the place of command. Both father and mother "flock" with their children in close intimacy and warm and friendly relationship. They understand each other and matters of important concern are settled by discussion, consideration, mutual give and take. The children have their voice, their interests and desires are considered and they count as autemous persons. There is no known substitute for wisdom, insight, tact, common sense, and power by inherent right of character. Discipline is of course necessary. When these traits are missing there will be disasters, whether under this American democratic method or the old system of authority. Mere "goodness" on the part of the parents is not enough. Some parents go jauntily on, trusting that heaven will break in and accomplish what they neglect to do for their children. But they might just as well neglect their golf game and still expect angels to carry the balls straight forward no matter how much they splice their stroke!
The great American experiment-the application of democracy to the home life is a success only for those who pay the cost of the precious thing. And we shall never have sound American education until the fundamental work of education, especially moral education, is done in the home. We may pay adequate salaries to teachers, build greater school buildings, reconstruct our imperfect systems, and yet We shall have the same amorphous product until the father and mother, without any salary, get down seriously to their job and do it with insight and
The parent may often think that his labor has been in vain. The grain and millet seed sown in the Volga valley of Russia in 1921 produced no harvest for that year, because of drought; but after that awful year of famine that same grain, undecayed in the dry the ground, in summer of 1922 burst forth into life and yielded a good harvest. What is solidly formed in early youth is sure to remain as a mighty tugging force in after years. Many a discouraged parent finds at a later day that he builded better than he knewand so did she.
Labor's Own Wall Street
Condensed from The New Republic (Feb. 7)
hard shocks in recent months. First, it was amazed when the Harriman National Bank considered the United Mine Workers safe enough to lend them $100,000 on their own security; now it has suddenly awakened to the extraordinary development of labor banking in these United States. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers has recently bought a "substantial interest" in the Empire Trust Company with resources $60,000,000, and two officers of the Brotherhood will henceforth sit side by side on the board of directors with Charles M. Schwab, T. Coleman DuPont, emperor of Delaware, and Minor C. Keith, who is reputed to carry a large part of Central America in his pocket. Furthermore, the locomotive engineers intend to open another bank of their own in New York City, all of the stock of which will be owned by their members. In addition the Central Trades and Labor Council of New York City and the New York State Federation of Labor already have $300,000 subscribed toward the $2,000,000 capital with which they intend to open another bank in New York.
"The deposits of workers in the banks of the country aggregate from five to seven billion dollars, and the trade unions control fully one hundred million dollars," according to the National Industrial Conference Board. "The mobilization of these funas under the control of labor will give labor an enormous increase in power and enable it to influence profoundly all forms of industry."
Two years ago the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers opened the first "labor bank" in Cleveland, and since that date the amount of labor's money controlled by labor has been steadily increasing. There are nine
or ten labor banks either in operation or in immediate prospect throughout the country. Washington has the Mt. Vernon Savings Bank, owned by the International Association of Machinists; Chicago, the Amalgamated Trust and Savings Bank, owned by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers; Philadelphia the Producers and Consumers Bank. There are other labor banks in Indiana, Montana, Arizona, Alabama, California, Minnesota. Encouraged by the success of these trade union banking enterprises, the Order of Railroad Telegraphers applied for a charter in St. Louis proposing a capital of $600,000. Two banks are planned at Cincinnati-one by the Machinists' Union, the other, which is aiming at a two million capitalization, by the Railway Clerks' Union. The Maintenance of Way Brotherhood plan to have a bank at Detroit. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers have banks in process of formation in at least seven cities, and it is their aim to establish a nationwide system of cooperative labor banks. The success of the institutions already in operation, their departure from the time-honored customs and practices of banking, and the fear of their growth into serious competitors have considerably disturbed the old-line bankers.
Thus far the labor banks have behaved themselves in a most exemplary manner; indeed, they could not do otherwise if they would, for they are subject, of course, to the same laws and the same rigid inspection by federal and state examiners as other banks. There is no law, however, which regulates the interest a bank may pay to its depositors, provided it does not violate usury laws-and here is where the shoe pinches. When bids have been asked from Cleveland