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ed in raising materials from below for the purpose of widening the top; creating appanages and vice-royalties for his children, while all around are watching for the time when the whole machine shall topple over, burying in its ruins, king, princesses, appanages, vice-royalties, and all other of the bad machinery now so extensively in use.
Let but the people of the United States determine that they will place the consumer by the side of the producer, and thousands of the most useful men in that country: great and little capitalists, and the best operatives of all descriptions : will transfer themselves to the place where labour is in demand, wages are high, and food is abundant.* Then will it become necessary to offer them inducements to stay at home: then will the people acquire power : and then may the world see an apprcach to peace, for the people everywhere love peace.
Their rulers alone love war, and war abounds where man is cheap and food is dear. (Written in 1847.)
France and England are both hollow. With both power is apparent, not real, and both must lay down their arms when other nations shall determine that they will consume their own food, and that France and England shall raise their own. Wealth alone gives power. France is poor. England is apparently very rich, but far less so than she appears to be; and no better evidence of the fact need be desired than is to be found in the general ruin caused by the appropriation of a few millions' worth of land, and corn, and coal, and iron ore, to the purpose of making roads. She dams up capital, and when it accumulates to the amount of eight or ten millions she fancies herself very rich, and commences the investment of twenty or thirty millions: and when the work is half done, half the merchants and traders are ruined: and half the operatives thrown out of work, and obliged to expend their little savings in the effort to obtain food. Such has been the course of events in every cycle of seven years for the last half century, and such will it continue to be until she shall be compelled to raise her own food. Should the United States take the lead in the measures necessary to this end, by adopting vigorous measures for the specific end of enabling themselves to dispense with the present cumbrous and wasteful machinery of exchange ; adopting for it the cheap substitute that would be afforded by placing the consumer side by side with the producer: the close of another cycle of seven years would almost see the termination of the system. With its termination trade may become free: absolutely free: for in a natural state of things, those who possess abundant supplies of food, the great raw material of manufacture, can need no protection.
With each step in the progress towards that point, the people of Germany and Russia, and Spain, and Italy, and Ireland, will acquire power to consume more and more the food yielded by their own soil, on the ground on which it is produced; and with each they will acquire power consume more clothing, for which they will require more cotton, to be paid for in those commodities for which their soils and climates a e best fitted. With each, exchanges will be made more and more directly between the consumer and the producer, and the existing barbarous system of sending cotton to Manchester to be there spun for Germany and Russia ; and food from Germany and Russia to be eaten by those who spin it; will tend to pass away. With each, the planter will produce his cotton at less cost of labour, and the cost of exchanging for the products of other portions of the world will diminish. With each, the power of the peace-loving portions of the world will grow, while that of the war-making portions will decline; and with each, the power of man every where over land and over himself
*** Workmen! we who are now tied, abused, chained—who have no rights, are not cared for; no work, no bread, no future, as at present- let us go and seek elsewhere, for the Providence or nature which offers us all the treasures of their love and beneficence. Let us go and make the foundations of Icaria on the American land.”- Le Populaire.
f The Times says, that “ England is poor.” England is very much less rich than the world is accustomed to believe. She wastes too much to be very rich.
, his thoughts, his feelings, and his actions, will advance, with a steady tendency towards the establishment of perfect self-government. To the cotton planter this change is almost indispensable. So long as England shall continue to be the chief distributor of his great product, he can know nothing of self-government, for he must continue to be subject to the periodical revulsions with which that country is afflicted. At the present moment numerous mills are closed, not for want of orders, but for want of means to execute them, and his cotton falls heavily in price because of his dependence upon English cotton manufacturers who are themselves dependent on the movements of English banks and English politicians. The intervention of England between the producer in America and the consumers of the continent constitutes a cumbrous, costly, and wasteful portion of the machinery of exchange, and the substitution of direct intercourse with the consumer would be attended with advantage similar to that which results from replacing the cart or wagon by the railroad car. The more perfect the machinery the less is the friction, and the greater the power.
A DISHONESTY IN A HIGH WALK.
The dishonest practice of tradesmen giving gratuities to the servants of their customers, is familiarly known to the public, and has often been reprobated as it deserves. But it is not generally known that a practice precisely similar exists amongst life-assurance offices, where the bribed parties are not poor menials, with presumably obscure ideas of what is conscientious and right, but men belonging to one of the most liberal of professions, that of the law, and who might be expected to see all such matters in the clearest light.
Life-assurance, while generally designed for one of the most laudable of objects—the succour of those who might otherwise be left by the death of a father, husband, or other near relation in poverty–has become, in some degree, a business of competition. The joint-stock offices have a clear trading interest, as they aim at realising a profit for the shareholdders; and the mutually assuring offices are also interested in having large business, as, when it is large, it is conducted more cheaply, and the risks
are the more equally diffused. Hence the system of keen advertising pursued by all these establishments. It is very well to seek to obtain business by such fair means. indeed it is more than justifiable, for the public is still far from being generally aware of the great benefits which lifeassurance is calculated to confer. But a large majority of the offices beyond fair means; they hold forth the promise of a handsome commission to solicitors and others who bring them business, most of them giving 5 per cent. on the first and every subsequent annual premium, and several of them giving even 10 per cent on the first, and 5 per cent. on every ubsequent annual premium. Now, what is the real nature of this disburse nent? It may be considered, we think, first, with respect to its special effect on the offices; and, secondly, with respect to its bearing on the public.
In the case of a joint-stock company—which is the nature of most life-assurance offices—it is simply a burden upon profits, and in that respect it calls for no remark. In the case of mutually assuring societies it is totally different, being then a subtraction from the funds which ought to stand for the benefit of the assured parties, and of which any surplus that arises ought to be divisable amongst them alone. If it could be said that the persons already assured were merely giving of their means to induce others to do as they have done—to perform one of the most respectable moral acts of which a person having others dependent upon him is capable—it might be susceptible of some justification; but the purpose of the payment is not of this nature; it is for no propagandism in behalf of life-assurance, but only to induce a particular choice of their office as distinguished from others. It is evident that men in their circumstances are misspending their money in devoting their funds to such a purpose; and it is equally clear that, in doing so, they are doing that which they have no right to attempt doing in any circumstances; namely, holding forth a bribe to tempt men from the path of duty.
That commission' is really of this character, there cannot be the shade of a doubt. When an individual designs to assure a sum upon life, he is obviously concerned to select that office where the greatest advantages are to be obtained, and more especially to avoid those (and they are numerous) where comparatively small benefits are likely to accrue. Regarding his solicitor as a man of experience, he consults him about the selection of the best office, or puts the business at once into his hands as a piece of professional employment. Here it clearly is of the greatest importance for the interests of the assuring party that his agent or consultee sliould be an unbiassed man; but can we be assured that he really is so, if three-fourths of the life-assurance offices are holding him forth bribes of various amount, to induce him to drag the victim to their especial altar? Certainly, although honesty in such circumstances is not impossible, it is far from likely, and can in no measure be certain. The system does all it can to make rogues, and we have no security against their not being made. We must presume the intending assurer to be ignorant of this profligate practice. He relies implicitly on his agent, as he has a good right to do, seeing that he employs him to give an honest counsel. He expects that that office which will give most liberally to his widow and orphans is to be selected, according to the conscientious judgment of his counsellor. But what, on the contrary, is done? Why, he
is, perhaps, led to an office which does not hold forth any particular advantages to him (the assurer,) but which contents itself with only holding forth some advantages to his agent. He is, in short, betrayed by the paltry cupidity of that man (trust-worthy, perhaps, in all other circumstances) into a transaction which, very probably, is just the least advantageous that he could have effected in the circumstances. To give an idea of how the interests of an individual may
be betrayed in this manner, we take the following example from Mr. Babbage's Comparative View of Various Institutions for Assurance of Lives (1826.) • A clergyman, in order to provide at his death for a numerous family, succeeded, by great economy, in saving from his income sufficient to assure his life for £2000; being unacquainted with business, he unfortunately trusted the choice of the office at which he assured to the attorney whom he had been in the habit of employing. The attorney effected the policy at one of those offices which make no return of any part of the profits, and which, notwithstanding, charge the same prices as the Equitable. During about twenty years, he received a commission of five per cent from the office (realising in all probably £50,) which was paid out of the annual sum, with difficulty spared from the scanty income of his employer: and on the death of the clergyman, his seven surviving orphans received from the office the original sum assured, £2000, instead of about £3200, which they might have received from the Equitable, had not the bribe held out by the other office been too great for the integrity of their father's solicitor. We can add another illustration, in which the honest course was taken; and we are the more happy to do so, as it reflects credit on a profession which is here presented in an unpleasing light. A solicitor of our acquaintance was employed to effect an assurance for £2000 about the year 1820. He adopted a non-bribing office, which divided profits among the assured, instead of going to a certain other one in his eye, where he would have secured a commission' of ten guineas, but which did not divide profits. The premiums were somewhat different, but not to a great extent, at least not nearly so great as the results would have been at the end of seventeen years—the currency of the transaction—when the representatives of the assuring party got seven hundred pounds additional.
Unquestionably, the heavier part of this dishonesty in a high walk' lies at the door of the offices which hold forth the temptation; and for this reason, we present a list of what we believe to constitute nearly the whole of the honorable minority which reject such means of obtaining business, believing that we are not only thus putting a deserved, though negative stigma upon a corrupt practice, but helping to guard the public against a betrayal of its interests. The following are non-bribing offices:-In London, the Equitable, Amicable, London Life Association, Mutual Assurance, Rock, and Metropolitan-all being mutual offices excepting the two last, which have an admixture of the proprietary system : in Edinburgh, the Scottish Provident, and the Scottish Amicable--all of these last being mutually-assuring and profit-dividing societies.*
*We shall be hnppy to publish, in a conspicuous manner, the names of any other life-assurance offices which either do nol now give bribes for business, or shall here after abundon the practice.
We conclude with some remarks by Mr. De Morgan, to which every honorable mind must respond. "All who have written on this subject of late years have attacked this bribe, for such it is; but they have directed all their censure upon the offices, as if they were the only parties to blame. If indeed the bribe had been offered to the needy and ignorant only, this partial distribution of blame might have been allowed; but, when the parties who receive the bribe are men of education, and moving in those professions which bring the successful to affluence, I do not see the justice of allowing them to escape. I have little doubt that an increasing sense of right and wrong will banish this unworthy practice, either by failure of givers or receivers. A barrister cannot offer commission on the briefs which he brings, nor can a physician pay an apothecary for his recommendation; a jury never receives a hint that the plaintiff will give commission on the damages which they award; and the time will come when the offer of money to a person, whose unbiassed opinion is already the property of another, will be deemed what it really is; namely, bribery and corruption. It is one among many proofs how low is the standard of collective morality, and how easy it is for honorable individuals to do in concert that from which they would separately shrink.
LOSS IS LOSS.
In connexion with the above subject, it may be well here to advert to a very prevalent error of the popular mind with regard to insurance.When any great fire takes place, such as those which have lately happened in Liverpool and Manchester, the paragraphist usually concludes his account of it with the consoling words, We are happy to learn that the property was insured to the amount of £30,000, which will nearly cover the whole loss! The reader, previously much distressed by the details of the event, now cheers up, and goes on to the next paragraph with a re-assured mind, thinking to himself, "Well, after all, there's no loss; that's a blessing! So, also, when it is stated that the average loss of British shipping per annum reaches about two and a half millions, and is attended by the average loss of fifteen hundred lives, the public mourns for the poor men who have perished in the cause of mercantile enterprise, but takes complacent views of the pecuniary part of the calamity, for all that comes upon the underwriters, you know. Because the owners of the property are not the losers, because the loss comes upon a company of insurers, it is supposed by the bulk of the public to be no loss at all. Now the fact is, that the houses burnt, and the ships sunk or dashed to pieces, with all the goods concerned in both instances, are as much lost in the one case as the other. The loss is not concentrated, as it would have been in early times, upon one or a few persons, but it is fully and unequivocally a loss nevertheless—that is, a destruction of the products of human industry, and a diminution of the possessions of the community; the only difference is, in its being diffused over a large surface. How truly loss is loss to insurers, could, we believe, be most pathetically shown in the state of several companies for sea-risks at the