# „At the beginning of this marvelous era it was natural to expect, and it was expected, that labor-saving inventions would lighten the toil and improve the condition of the laborer; that the enormous increase in the power of producing wealth would make real poverty a thing of the past.“

Introductory : The Problem
Progress and Poverty (1879)
Context: At the beginning of this marvelous era it was natural to expect, and it was expected, that labor-saving inventions would lighten the toil and improve the condition of the laborer; that the enormous increase in the power of producing wealth would make real poverty a thing of the past. … It is true that disappointment has followed disappointment, and that discovery upon discovery, and invention after invention, have neither lessened the toil of those who most need respite, nor brought plenty to the poor. But there have been so many things to which it seemed this failure could be laid, that up to our time the new faith has hardly weakened. We have better appreciated the difficulties to be overcome; but not the less trusted that the tendency of the times was to overcome them.
Now, however, we are coming into collision with facts which there can be no mistaking. From all parts of the civilized world come complaints of industrial depression; of labor condemned to involuntary idleness; of capital massed and wasting; of pecuniary distress among businessmen; of want and suffering and anxiety among the working classes. All the dull, deadening pain, all the keen, maddening anguish, that to great masses of men are involved in the words "hard times," afflict the world to-day. This state of things, common to communities differing so widely in situation, in political institutions, in fiscal and financial systems, in density of population and in social organization, can hardly be accounted for by local causes.

Adopted from Wikiquote. Last update June 3, 2021. History
##### Henry George61
American economist 1839 - 1897

## Related quotes

### „When we consider that labor is the producer of all wealth, is it not evident that the impoverishment and, dependence of labor are abnormal conditions resulting from restrictions and usurpations, and that instead of accepting protection, what labor should demand is freedom.“

—  Henry George American economist 1839 - 1897

Source: Protection or Free Trade? (1886), Ch. 2
Context: When we consider that labor is the producer of all wealth, is it not evident that the impoverishment and, dependence of labor are abnormal conditions resulting from restrictions and usurpations, and that instead of accepting protection, what labor should demand is freedom. That those who advocate any extension of freedom choose to go no further than suits their own special purpose is no reason why freedom itself should be distrusted.

### „It is willingly granted that by cultivation the origination of new varieties is favored, and that by man's labor many varieties are acquired which, under natural conditions, would be lost; but nothing justifies the assumption that the tendency to formation of varieties is so extraordinarily increased that the species speedily lose all stability, and their offspring diverge into an endless series of extremely variable forms. Were the change in the conditions the sole cause of variability we might expect that those cultivated plants which are grown for centuries under almost identical conditions would again attain constancy.“

Experiments with Hybrids of Other Species of Plants
Experiments in plant-hybridisation (1865)

### „The real trouble must be that supply is somehow prevented from satisfying demand, that somewhere there is an obstacle which prevents labor from producing the things that laborers want.“

Progress and Poverty (1879)
Context: This strange and unnatural spectacle of large numbers of willing men who cannot find employment is enough to suggest the true cause to whosoever can think consecutively. For, though custom has dulled us to it, it is a strange and unnatural thing that men who wish to labor, in order to satisfy their wants, cannot find the opportunity — as, since labor is that which produces wealth, the man who seeks to exchange labor for food, clothing, or any other form of wealth, is like one who proposes to give bullion for coin, or wheat for flour. We talk about the supply of labor and the demand for labor, but, evidently, these are only relative terms. The supply of labor is everywhere the same — two hands always come into the world with one mouth, twenty-one boys to every twenty girls; and the demand for labor must always exist as long as men want things which labor alone can procure. We talk about the "want of work," but, evidently, it is not work that is short while want continues; evidently, the supply of labor cannot be too great, nor the demand for labor too small, when people suffer for the lack of things that labor produces. The real trouble must be that supply is somehow prevented from satisfying demand, that somewhere there is an obstacle which prevents labor from producing the things that laborers want.
Take the case of any one of these vast masses of unemployed men, to whom, though he never heard of Malthus, it today seems that there are too many people in the world. In his own wants, in the needs of his anxious wife, in the demands of his half-cared-for, perhaps even hungry and shivering children, there is demand enough for labor, Heaven knows! In his own willing hands is the supply. Put him on a solitary island, and though cut off from all the enormous advantages which the co-operation, combination, and machinery of a civilized community give to the productive powers of man yet his two hands can fill the mouths and keep warm the backs that depend upon them. Yet where productive power is at its highest development they cannot. Why? Is it not because in the one case he has access to the material and forces of nature, and in the other this access is denied?
Is it not the fact that labor is thus shut off from nature which can alone explain the state of things that compels men to stand idle who would willingly supply their wants by their labor? The proximate cause of enforced idleness with one set of men may be the cessation of demand on the part of other men for the particular things they produce, but trace this cause from point to point, from occupation to occupation, and you will find that enforced idleness in one trade is caused by enforced idleness in another, and that the paralysis which produces dullness in all trades cannot be said to spring from too great a supply of labor or too small a demand for labor, but must proceed from the fact that supply cannot meet demand by producing the things which satisfy want and are the object of labor.

### „Only when the stock of wealth can be related to human energy by purchasing living energy as "labor power", offered for sale by people who have no other means of using their labor to ensure their livelihood: and only when it can relate that labor power to purchased machines - embodiments of past transformation of nature by human energy expended in the past - only then does "wealth" become "capital."“

—  Eric Wolf American anthropologist 1923 - 1999

Source: Europe and the People Without History, 1982, Chapter 10, Crises and Differentiation in Capitalism, p. 298.

### „By lowering their expenditure on food, we would be awarding every family with an increase in disposable income, and mitigate labor demands for wage increases.“

—  Francis Escudero Filipino politician 1969

2009

### „[T]he labor of keeping house is labor in its most naked state, for labor is toil that never finishes, toil that has to be begun again the moment it is completed, toil that is destroyed and consumed by the life process.“

—  Mary McCarthy American writer 1912 - 1989

"The Vita Activa", p. 158. First published in The New Yorker (18 October 1958)
On the Contrary: Articles of Belief 1946–1961 (1961)

### „Suppose a clothing manufacturer learns of a machine that will make men’s and women's overcoats for half as much labor as previously. He installs the machines and drops half his labor force.This looks at first glance like a clear loss of employment. But the machine itself required labor to make it; so here, as one offset, are jobs that would not otherwise have existed. The manufacturer, how ever, would have adopted the machine only if it had either made better suits for half as much labor, or had made the same kind of suits at a smaller cost. If we assume the latter, we cannot assume that the amount of labor to make the machines was as great in terms of pay rolls as the amount of labor that the clothing manufacturer hopes to save in the long run by adopting the machine; otherwise there would have been no economy, and he would not have adopted it.So there is still a net loss of employment to be accounted for. But we should at least keep in mind the real possibility that even the first effect of the introduction of labor-saving machinery may be to increase employment on net balance; because it is usually only in the long run that the clothing manufacturer expects to save money by adopting the machine: it may take several years for the machine to "pay for itself."After the machine has produced economies sufficient to offset its cost, the clothing manufacturer has more profits than before. (We shall assume that he merely sells his coats for the same price as his competitors, and makes no effort to undersell them.) At this point, it may seem, labor has suffered a net loss of employment, while it is only the manufacturer, the capitalist, who has gained. But it is precisely out of these extra profits that the subsequent social gains must come. The manufacturer must use these extra profits in at least one of three ways, and possibly he will use part of them in all three: (1) he will use the extra profits to expand his operations by buying more machines to make more coats; or (2) he will invest the extra profits in some other industry; or (3) he will spend the extra profits on increasing his own consumption. Whichever of these three courses he takes, he will increase employment.“

Economics in One Lesson (1946), The Curse of Machinery (ch. 7)

### „A scheme is unjust when the higher expectations, one or more of them, are excessive. If these expectations were decreased, the situation of the less favored would be improved.“

Source: A Theory of Justice (1971; 1975; 1999), Chapter II, Section 13, pg. 79

### „All wealth is the product of labor.“

—  John Locke English philosopher and physician 1632 - 1704

### „Now habit is a labor-saving invention which enables a man to get along with less fuel,—that is all; for fuel is force.“

—  Oliver Wendell Holmes Poet, essayist, physician 1809 - 1894

The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (1858)

### „The search for the curvature K indicates that, after making all known corrections, the number N seems to increase faster with d than the third power, which would be expected in a Euclidean space, hence K is positive.“

—  Howard P. Robertson American mathematician and physicist 1903 - 1961

The space implied thereby is therefore bounded, of finite total volume, and of a present "radius of curvature" $R = \frac{1}{K^\frac{1}{2}}$ which is found to be of the order of 500 million light years. Other observations, on the "red shift" of light from these distant objects, enable us to conclude with perhaps more assurance that this radius is increasing...
Geometry as a Branch of Physics (1949)

### „When civilization [population] increases, the available labor again increases. In turn, luxury again increases in correspondence with the increasing profit, and the customs and needs of luxury increase. Crafts are created to obtain luxury products. The value realized from them increases, and, as a result, profits are again multiplied in the town. Production there is thriving even more than before. And so it goes with the second and third increase. All the additional labor serves luxury and wealth, in contrast to the original labor that served the necessity of life.“

Muqaddimah, 2:272–73 quoted in Weiss (1995) p 30

### „Any labor which competes with slave labor must accept the economic conditions of slave labor.“

Source: The Human Use of Human Beings (1950), p. 162

### „There are about 8,000,000 negroes in the United States, and, my friends, I not only have not the power to put the negro out of the labor movement, but I would not, even if I did have the power. Why should I do such a thing? I would have nothing to gain, but the movement would have much to lose. Under our policies and principles we seek to build up the labor movement, instead of injuring it, and we want all the negroes we can possibly get who will join hands with organized labor.“

—  Samuel Gompers American Labor Leader[AFL] 1850 - 1924

Gompers, Samuel. The Samuel Gompers Papers. Stuart Bruce Kaufman, Peter J. Albert, Grace Palladino, and Marla J Hughes, eds. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2000, p. 137.

### „The policy of affirmative action, however, was never able to distinguish someone like me (a graduate student of English, ambitious for a college teaching career) from a slightly educated Mexican-American who lived in a barrio and worked as a menial laborer, never expecting a future improved. Worse, affirmative action made me the beneficiary of his conditions.“

—  Richard Rodríguez American journalist and essayist 1944

### „Under the old North Amerikan slave system it was openly admitted that people simply will not willingly submit to bondage and unremunerated forced labor. The human spirit naturally rebels against such a condition. Therefore the wealthy interests whose economic domination, power, prestige and wealth itself relied on slave labor, had to devise a system which would compel the submission of those to be kept in bondage.“

—  Kevin Rashid Johnson American prisoner and social activist 1971

"Razor Wire Plantations" (2014)

### „It is gratifying to report that the progress of industry, the enormous increase in individual productivity through labor-saving devices, and the high rate of wages have all combined to furnish our people in general with such an abundance not only of the necessaries but of the conveniences of life that we are by a natural evolution solving our problems of economic and social justice.“

—  Calvin Coolidge American politician, 30th president of the United States (in office from 1923 to 1929) 1872 - 1933

1920s, Second State of the Union Address (1924)

### „Since the labor-power could be the labor of four, eight, or even twelve hours, the amount of labor expeneded can be augmented. The value of the labor-power is decided by the consumption goods necessary to maintain the life of the worker, making it possible for that person to exist as a human being who expends the same labor today as yesterday.“

—  Itsurō Sakisaka Japanese economist 1897 - 1985

Exploitation of Labor (1967)

### „Reduce the supply of black labor by colonizing the black laborer out of the country, and by precisely so much you increase the demand for and wages of white labor.“

—  Abraham Lincoln 16th President of the United States 1809 - 1865

1860s, Second State of the Union address (1862)
Context: Labor is like any other commodity in the market — increase the demand for it and you increase the price of it. Reduce the supply of black labor by colonizing the black laborer out of the country, and by precisely so much you increase the demand for and wages of white labor.

### „When I'm sitting in front of my easel again.. .I'm going to make things that no one would have expected of me.“

—  Jacob Maris Dutch painter 1837 - 1899

translation from original Dutch, Fons Heijnsbroek, 2018
version in original Dutch / citaat van Jacob Maris, in het Nederlands: Als ik maar weêr voor den ezel zit.. ..ik ga dingen maken, die men niet van me verwacht zou hebben.
as cited by M. van Heteren e.a., Jacob Maris (1837-1899). Ik denk in mijn materie, (exp. cat. Haarlem, Teylers Museum / Oss, Museum Jan Cunen) Zwolle 2003, p. 144
a remark of Jacob, just before his death