The kind of policy described is sometimes possible where, as in the case of railways, the only competition possible is between two or three great companies, the operations being on too vast a scale to be within the reach of individual capitalists; and this is one of the reasons why businesses which require to be carried on by great joint-stock enterprises cannot be trusted to competition, but, when not reserved by the State to itself, ought to be carried on under conditions prescribed, and, from time to time, varied by the State, for the purpose of insuring to the public a cheaper supply of its wants than would be afforded by private interest in the absence of sufficient competition. But in the ordinary branches of industry no one rich competitor has it in his power to drive out all the smaller ones. Some businesses show a tendency to pass out of the hands of many small producers or dealers into a smaller number of larger ones; but the cases in which this happens are those in which the possession of a larger capital permits the adoption of more powerful machinery, more efficient by more expensive processes, or a better organized and more economical mode of carrying on business, and thus enables the large dealer legitimately and permanently to supply the commodity cheaper than can be done on the small scale; to the great advantage of the consumers, and therefore of the labouring classes, and diminishing, that waste of the resources of the community so much complained of by Socialists, the unnecessary multiplication of mere distributors, and of the various other classes whom Fourier calls the parasites of industry. When this change is effected, the larger capitalists, either individual or joint-stock, among which the business is divided, are seldom, if ever, in any considerable branch of commerce, so few as that competition shall not continue to act between them; so that the saving in cost, which enabled them to undersell the small dealers, continues afterwards, as at first, to be passed on, in lower prices, to their customers. The operation, therefore, of competition in keeping down the prices of commodities, including those on which wages are expended, is not illusive but real, and, we may add, is a growing, not a declining, fact.
Next, it must be observed that Socialists generally, and even the most enlightened of them, have a very imperfect and one-sided notion of the operation of competition. They see half its effects, and overlook the other half; they regard it as an agency for grinding down every one’s remuneration—for obliging every one to accept less wages for his labour, or a less price for his commodities, which would be true only if every one had to dispose of his labour or his commodities to some great monopolist, and the competition were all on one side. They forget that competition is a cause of high prices and values as well as of low; that the buyers of labour and of commodities compete with one another as well as the sellers; and that if it is competition which keeps the prices of labour and commodities as low as they are, it is competition which prevents them from falling still lower. In truth, when competition is perfectly free on both sides, its tendency is not specially either to raise or to lower the price of articles, but to equalise it; to level inequalities of remuneration, and to reduce all to a general average, a result which, in so far as realised (no doubt very imperfectly), is, on Socialistic principles, desirable. But if, disregarding for the time that part of the effects of competition which consists in keeping up prices, we fix our attention on its effect in keeping them down, and contemplate this effect in reference solely to the interest of the labouring classes, it would seem that if competition keeps down wages, and so gives a motive to the labouring classes to withdraw the labour market from the full influence of competition, if they can, it must on the other hand have credit for keeping down the prices of the articles on which wages are expended, to the great advantage of those who depend on wages. To meet this consideration Socialists, as we said in our quotation from M. Louis Blanc, are reduced to affirm that the low prices of commodities produced by competition are delusive, and lead in the end to higher prices than before, because when the richest competitor has got rid of all his rivals, he commands the market and can demand any price he pleases. Now, the commonest experience shows that this state of things, under really free competition, is wholly imaginary. The richest competitor neither does nor can get rid of all his rivals, and establish himself in exclusive possession of the market; and it is not the fact that any important branch of industry or commerce formerly divided among many has become, or shows any tendency to become, the monopoly of a few.
It may be said that of this hard lot no one has any reason to complain, because it befalls those only who are outstripped by others, from inferiority of energy or of prudence. This, even were it true, would be a very small alleviation of the evil. If some Nero or Domitian were to require a hundred persons to run a race for their lives, on condition that the fifty or twenty who came in hindmost should be put to death, it would not be any diminution of the injustice that the strongest or nimblest would, except through some untoward accident, be certain to escape. The misery and the crime would be that any were put to death at all. So in the economy of society; if there be any who suffer physical privation or moral degradation, whose bodily necessities are either not satisfied or satisfied in a manner which only brutish creatures can be content with, this, though not necessarily the crime of society, is a failure of the social arrangements. And to assert as a mitigation of the evil that those who thus suffer are the weaker members of the community, morally or physically, is to add insult to misfortune. Is weakness a justification of suffering? Is it not, on the contrary, an irresistible claim upon every human being for protection against suffering? If the minds and feelings of the prosperous were in a right state, would they accept their prosperity if for the sake of it even one person near them was, for any other cause than voluntary fault, excluded from obtaining a desirable existence?
First among existing social evils may be mentioned the evil of Poverty. The institution of Property is upheld and commended principally as being the means by which labour and frugality are insured their reward, and mankind enabled to emerge from indigence. It may be so; most Socialists allow that it has been so in earlier periods of history. But if the institution can do nothing more or better in this respect than it has hitherto done, its capabilities, they affirm, are very insignificant. What proportion of the population, in the most civilised countries of Europe, enjoy in their own persons anything worth naming of the benefits of property? It may be said, that but for property in the hands of their employers they would be without daily bread; but, though this be conceded, at least their daily bread is all that they have; and that often in insufficient quantity; almost always of inferior quality; and with no assurance of continuing to have it at all; an immense proportion of the industrious classes being at some period or other of their lives (and all being liable to become) dependent, at least temporarily, on legal or voluntary charity. Any attempt to depict the miseries of indigence, or to estimate the proportion of mankind who in the most advanced countries are habitually given up during their whole existence to its physical and moral sufferings, would be superfluous here. This may be left to philanthropists, who have painted these miseries in colours sufficiently strong. Suffice it to say that the condition of numbers in civilised Europe, and even in England and France, is more wretched than that of most tribes of savages who are known to us.
The first part of our task is by no means difficult; since it consists only in an enumeration of existing evils. Of these there is no scarcity, and most of them are by no means obscure or mysterious. Many of them are the veriest commonplaces of moralists, though the roots even of these lie deeper than moralists usually attempt to penetrate. So various are they that the only difficulty is to make any approach to an exhaustive catalogue. We shall content ourselves for the present with mentioning a few of the principal. And let one thing be remembered by the reader. When item after item of the enumeration passes before him, and he finds one fact after another which he has been accustomed to include among the necessities of nature urged as an accusation against social institutions, he is not entitled to cry unfairness, and to protest that the evils complained of are inherent in Man and Society, and are such as no arrangements can remedy. To assert this would be to beg the very question at issue. No one is more ready than Socialists to admit—they affirm it indeed much more decidedly than truth warrants—that the evils they complain of are irremediable in the present constitution of society. They propose to consider whether some other form of society may be devised which would not be liable to those evils, or would be liable to them in a much less degree. Those who object to the present order of society, considered as a whole, and who accept as an alternative the possibility of a total change, have a right to set down all the evils which at present exist in society as part of their case, whether these are apparently attributable to social arrangements or not, provided they do not flow from physical laws which human power is not adequate, or human knowledge has not yet learned, to counteract. Moral evils, and such physical evils as would be remedied if all persons did as they ought, are fairly chargeable against the state of society which admits of them; and are valid as arguments until it is shown that any other state of society would involve an equal or greater amount of such evils. In the opinion of Socialists, the present arrangements of society in respect to Property and the Production and Distribution of Wealth, are, as means to the general good, a total failure. They say that there is an enormous mass of evil which these arrangements do not succeed in preventing; that the good, either moral or physical, which they realise is wretchedly small compared with the amount of exertion employed, and that even this small amount of good is brought about by means which are full of pernicious consequences, moral and physical.
Yes, and I certainly see great reason in that. The advantages which the possession of large capital gives, which are very great, and which are growing greater and greater inasmuch as it is the tendency of business more and more to be conducted on a large scale; these advantages are at present, not from any intention of the Legislature, but arising from things into which intention does not enter at all, to a great degree a monopoly in the hands of the rich, and it is natural that the poor should desire to obtain those same advantages by association, the only way in which they can do so. Perhaps I may add this also: I think there is no way in which the working classes can make so beneficial a use of their savings both to themselves and to society, as by the formation of associations to carry on the business with which they are acquainted, and in which they are themselves engaged as workpeople, provided always that experience should show that these associations can keep together. If the experiment should succeed, I think there is much more advantage to be gained to the working classes by this than by any other mode of investing their savings. I do not speak of political or social considerations, but in a purely economical sense. When it has happened to any one, as it must have happened to most people, to have inquired or to have known in particular cases what portion of the price paid at a shop for an article really goes to the person who made it, and forms his remuneration, I think any one who has had occasion to make inquiries into that fact, must often have been astonished to find how small it is, and how much less a proportion the remuneration of the real labourer bears to the whole price than would be supposed beforehand; and it is of great importance to consider what is the cause of this. Now one thing is very important to remember in itself, and it is important that the working classes should be aware of it; and that is, that this does not arise from the extravagant remuneration of capital. Capital, when the security is good, can be borrowed in any quantity at little more than three per cent., and I imagine there is no co-operative association of working-people who would find it their interest to allow less than that remuneration, as an inducement to any of their members who, instead of consuming their share of the proceeds, might choose to save it, and add it to the capital of the association. Therefore it is not from the remuneration of capital that the evil proceeds. I think it proceeds from two causes: one of them (which does not fall strictly within the limits of the inquiry which the Committee is carrying on) is the very great, I may say, extravagant portion of the whole produce of the community that now goes to mere distributors; the immense amount that is taken up by the different classes of dealers, and especially by retailers. Competition no doubt has some tendency to reduce this rate of remuneration; still I am afraid that in most cases, looking at it on the whole, the effect of competition is, as in the case of the fees of professional people, rather to divide the amount among a larger number, and so diminish the share of each, than to lower the scale of what is obtained by the class generally. Another cause, more immediately connected with the present inquiry, is the difference between interest which is low, and profits which are high. Writers have very often set down all which is not interest, all that portion of profit which is in excess of interest, as the wages of superintendence, as Adam Smith terms it, and, in one point of view, it is properly called so. But then it should be added, that the wages of the labour of superintendence are not regulated like other wages by demand and supply, but are in reality the subject of a sort of monopoly; because the management of capital is a thing which no person can command except the person who has capital of his own, and therefore he is able, if he has a large capital, to obtain, in addition to interest, often a very large profit, for one-tenth part of which he could, and very often does, engage the services of some competent person to transact the whole of the labour of management, which would otherwise devolve upon himself. I do not say that this is unjust in the present state of society, for it is a necessary consequence of the law of property, and must exist while that law exists in its present form; but it is very natural that the working classes should wish to try whether they could not contrive to get this portion of the produce of their labour for themselves, so that the whole of the proceeds of an enterprize in which they were engaged might be theirs, after deducting the real remuneration of the capital they may require from others, which we know does not in general, when the security is good, much exceed three per cent. This seems to be an extremely legitimate purpose on the part of the working classes, and one that it would be desirable to carry out, if it could be effected; so that the enterprizes in which they would be engaged would not be conducted, as they are now, by a capitalist, hiring labourers as he wants them, but by the labourers themselves, mental as well as manual, hiring the capital they require at the market rate.
Certainly; and there would be this great advantage, that supposing those associations embraced only a small part of the working classes, they would have almost the same salutary effect on their minds as if they embraced the whole; because if a number of those associations were in existence, and they were found to be able to maintain their ground, and to compete well or tolerably, or to compete under great disadvantages even, with individual capitalists, still the whole of the working classes would see that all such disadvantages arose not from the law, but from the nature of the case, or from the absence of the necessary qualities in them; therefore those who might continue to be receivers of wages in the service of individual capitalists, would then feel that they were not doing so from compulsion but from choice, and that taking all the circumstances into consideration their condition appeared to them preferable as receivers of wages.
Whites’ associations of crime with people of color have helped to make the criminal justice system more punitive toward people of all races, and especially toward racial minorities, through several mechanisms. First, the public’s racial perceptions of crime have gone hand-in-hand with its support for punitive crime policy, to which elected officials,11) prosecutors,12) and judges13) have been responsive. Second, these perceptions directly influence the work of criminal justice practitioners and policymakers, who are not immune to these widely held biases.
The media, policymakers, and criminal justice practitioners can implement several proven interventions to sever associations of crime with race, and temper their impact. News producers can monitor and correct for disparities in crime reporting. Policymakers can curb excessive incarceration and develop policies to reduce disparities in sentencing and crime rates. All stakeholders – particularly criminal justice professionals – can use empirically validated tools to detect and reduce the impact of implicit racial biases.
The report is organized as follows: Section II examines public opinion about punishment, showing that Americans have grown more punitive over time and that white Americans are more punitive than African Americans and Latinos, even though they are less frequently impacted by crime. Section III describes explicit and implicit measures of Americans’ racial perceptions of crime. Section IV presents studies showing that whites with stronger racial associations of crime are more punitive than whites with weaker racial associations of crime. Section V examines the role that crime rates, the media, policymakers, and criminal justice professionals have played in shaping the public’s mental image of, and response to, people who commit crime. Section VI discusses other racial differences in views and experiences that account for the racial gap in punitive sentiment, including experience with police stops, causal accounts of crime, and overt racial prejudice. Section VII describes the negative consequences of a biased and punitive criminal justice system. Section VIII suggests how policymakers, criminal justice professionals, and the media can remedy their own and the public’s perceived link between race and crime, and temper its influence on criminal justice.