In order that huge industries may be built up and employment secured for hundreds of thousands of men, large bodies of capital must be gathered together. This is a work for financiers. Go down into Wall Street, in New York; La Salle Street, in Chicago; State Street, in Boston, and look over the financiers there. A considerable number of them are fat men. Because thinkers and workers cannot appreciate financial value, many of them complain loudly because the fat man sits in an easy chair and reaps the profits from their efforts. They restlessly agitate for an economic system which will yield them all the profits from their ideas and labor. They want to eliminate the capitalist—to condemn the fat man to a choice between scholarship or working as they work and starvation. They know human aptitudes so vaguely that they want to turn the corpulent into farm hands or philosophers and the great mass of lean and bony into financial rulers.
There is a prevalent notion among the unthinking that capital takes about four-fifths of the products of labor’s hands and keeps it. A committee of the American Civic Federation, after three years of careful investigation in industries employing an aggregate of ten million workers, found that this idea is based upon the assumption that capital gets and keeps all the gross income from production except what is paid to labor. It leaves out of account the cost of raw materials, the upkeep of buildings and machinery, and miscellaneous expenses. When these are subtracted from gross income, the committee found, labor receives two-thirds of the remainder in wages and salaries, capital one-third for interest, upkeep of capital, and profit.
With some exceptions, neither the deep thinker nor the hard physical worker is capable of handling finances. They are lacking in financial acumen, due, no doubt, to the fact that the thinker is interested chiefly in the object of his thought, the worker chiefly in the exercise of his powerful muscles. Neither of them is sufficiently eager for the good things of life to have a true and unerring sense of financial values. The lean man is nervous. He is inclined to be irritable; he probably lacks patience. Therefore, he is not well qualified to judge impartially. The active, energetic, restless man is not contented to sit quietly for hours at a time and listen to the troubles of other people. He must get away, be out of doors, have something to do to exercise those splendid muscles of his. Therefore, it is left to the fat man to sit upon the bench, to listen to tiresome details of the woe of those who have had trouble with one another. Because he is neither nervous nor irritable; because his mind is at rest; because he is well fed and well clothed and has no need to be anxious, he can take time to be impartial and to judge righteous judgment between his fellowmen. And so you will find fat men on the bench, in politics, in the halls of legislature, on the police force, and in other places where they have an opportunity to use their judicial ability.