Problems of Poverty eBook

John A. Hobson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 234 pages of information about Problems of Poverty.
among themselves, but not directly competing with English workers.  Now if it were the case that these foreigners really introduced new branches of production designed to stimulate and supply new wants this contention would have much weight.  The Flemings who in Edward III.’s reign introduced the finer kinds of weaving into England, and the Huguenot refugees who established new branches of the silk, glass, and paper manufactures, conferred a direct service upon English commerce, and their presence in the labour market was probably an indirect service to the English workers.  But this is not the case with the modern Jew immigrants.  They have not stimulated or supplied new wants.  It is not even correct to say that most of them do not directly compete with native labour.  It is true that certain branches of the cheap clothing trade have been their creation.  The cheap coat trade, which they almost monopolize, seems due to their presence.  But even here they have established no new kind of trade.  To their cheap labour perhaps is due in some cases the large export trade in cheap clothing, but even then it is doubtful whether the work would not otherwise have been done by machinery under healthier conditions, and have furnished work and wages for English workers.  During the last decade they have been entering more and more into direct competition with British labour in the cabinet-making, shoemaking, baking, hair-dressing, and domestic service occupations.  Lastly, they enter into direct competition of the worst form with English female labour, which is driven in these very clothing trades to accept work and wages which are even too low to tempt the Jews of Whitechapel.  The constant infiltration of cheap immigrant labour is in large measure responsible for the existence of the “sweating workshops,” and the survival of low forms of industrial development which form a factor in the problem of poverty.

Chapter IV.

“The Sweating System.”

Sec. 1.  Origin of the Term “Sweating.”—­Having gained insight into some of the leading industrial forces of the age, we can approach more hopefully the study of that aspect of City poverty, commonly known as the “Sweating System.”

The first thing is to get a definite meaning to the term.  Since the examination of experts before the recent “Lords’ Committee” elicited more than twenty widely divergent definitions of this “Sweating System,” some care is required at the outset of our inquiry.  The common use of the term “Sweating System” is itself responsible for much ambiguity, for the term “system” presupposes a more or less distinct form of organization of industry identified with the evils of sweating.  Now as it should be one of the objects of inquiry to ascertain whether there exists any one such definite form, it will be better at the outset to confine ourselves to the question, “What is Sweating?”

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Problems of Poverty from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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