Tuesday, December 12

Rural Wealth And Welfare

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I have carefully refrained from quotations, or even references to works consulted, for the obvious reason that such formalities would distract the attention

of most readers from the direct, common-sense thinking desired, and render the style of the book more complex. I hereby acknowledge my debt to the

leading writers of past and present upon most of the topics treated, not excluding any school or party.

The statements of facts I have taken from best authorities, with care to verify, if possible, by comparisons. Many data have been diligently compiled and

rearranged for more exact presentation of facts, and the phenomena of prices of farm crops have been analyzed with especial care. The necessities of

the printed volume have to some extent obscured the charts by reduction, but I trust they may be intelligible and interesting to all students of agricultural


No attempt has been made to argue or to expound difficulties beyond a simple statement of principles involved, and the spirit of controversy has been

absent from my thoughts throughout. Whatever bias of opinion may appear is without a tinge of bitterness toward those who may differ. I trust that men of

all views may recognize in these pages the wish of their author to have only truth prevail.

In offering this volume to farmers I do not assume that all questions of wealth and welfare can be settled by rule. I hope to point out the actual trend of facts,

the universal principles sustained by the facts, and means of most ready adjustment to circumstances in the evolutions of trade and manufacture. The

business sense of farmers is appealed to for the sake of their own welfare. Several important questions of rural welfare have been touched only

suggestively because the limits of the volume could not admit of fuller treatment.

My gratitude is offered especially to Professor Liberty H. Bailey, of Cornell University, to whose suggestion and patient attention the existence of this

volume is due.

George T. Fairchild.

Berea College, Kentucky,

March 1, 1900.

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Introduction. General Welfare.

Elements of welfare.—The welfare of communities, like that of individuals, is made up of health, wealth, wisdom and virtue. If we can say of any human

being that lie is healthy, wealthy, wise and good, we are sure of his satisfaction so far as it depends upon self. When a community is made up of

individuals kept in health and strength from birth to old age, sustained with accumulated treasures, wise enough to use both strength and wealth to

advantage, and upright, just and kind in all human relations, our ideals of welfare are met.

These are four different kinds of welfare, each of which is essential, and only confusion of thought follows any attempt to treat them all as wealth, however

they may be intermingled and exchanged. Health is essential in gaining a full measure of wealth and wisdom, and perhaps in maintaining genuine

character; but a healthy life gives no assurance of complete welfare. The facts concerning health in a community make a distinct subject of study for

promotion of welfare, and we call it public hygiene. The science of education deals with ways and means of securing public wisdom. The science of

government includes all facts relative to public virtue. So the facts by which we know the nature and uses of accumulated wealth in any community make a

distinct study under the name economic science; it deals with certain definite groups of facts. To call everything good “wealth” and everything evil “ilth”

adds nothing but confusion to our thoughts.

Mutual welfare.—Every human being in society is directly interested in the study of wealth as related to his own and his neighbors’ welfare. No one can

understand his relations to those about him in the family, the neighborhood, his country and the world without some understanding of the sources and uses

of wealth all about him. His very industry gains its reward by certain means in society depending upon economic principles. His motives for accumulating

wealth have a distinct place. His uses of accumulated wealth are a part of the general facts which make wealth desirable. So the study of wealth in society

must be everybody’s study, if each wishes to do best for himself or for his neighbors. In such study of welfare every one finds his interests completely

blended with the interests of others. His existence is part of a larger existence called society, from which he receives himself in large measure and most

of his satisfaction; to which he contributes in like measure a portion of its essential character and future existence.

The old idea that one gives up freedom of self for the advantages given by society has no foundation in fact, because we are born into our place in society

without power to escape its advantages, disadvantages or responsibilities. The maxim “Each for all and all for each” is thoroughly grounded in the

constitution of man; his needs and abilities enforce society and insist upon community of interests. Even personal wealth confers little welfare outside of

its relations to other human beings. The whole progress of the human race tends toward acceptance of the clear vision of Tennyson, where

“All men find their good in all men’s good,

And all men join in noble brotherhood.”

Each stage in the progress of the conquest of nature to meet human wants, from the gathering of wild fruits, through hunting and fishing, domestication of

animals, herding, and tillage of permanent fields, to the manufacture of universal comforts and tools, and to general commerce, has made more important

the welfare of neighbors. Even the wars of our century are waged in the name of and for the sake of humanity. The study of individual welfare involves the

public welfare. Welfare of a class is dependent upon the welfare of all classes. Wealth of individuals is genuine wealth in connection only with the wealth of

the world. Welfare without wealth would imply the annihilation of space, of time, and of all forces acting in opposition to wishes.

Wealth in farming.—The subject of the following pages is wealth, how it is accumulated, how distributed to individual control and how finally consumed for

the welfare of all concerned. But special reference is made to the sources of wealth as a means of welfare in rural life, and to the bearing of definite

economic principles upon farming, especially in these United States of America. Farming is, and must always remain, a chief factor in both wealth and

welfare, and its relations to the industry of the world grow more important to every farmer as the world comes nearer to him. We cannot now live in such

isolation as our fathers loved. The markets of the world and the methods of other farmers all over the world affect the daily life of every tiller of the soil

today. Commerce in the products of farm and household reaches every interest, when the ordinary mail sack goes round the world in less time than it took

our immediate ancestors to go as pioneers from Massachusetts to Ohio. It seems possible to show from the experiences of farm life the essential

principles of wealth-making and wealth-handling, including the tendencies under a world-wide commerce. These every farmer and laborer needs for his

business, for his home, and for his country.

Nature Of Wealth

Wealth defined.—If we look at the objects which men number in speaking of their wealth, we shall soon find the list differing in important particulars from

the list of things which they enjoy. All enjoyable things contribute to welfare, but not all are wealth. Some, like the air and the sunshine, if never lacking,

cannot be counted, because no storing against future need is practicable; but the fan that cools the air and the coal that gives heat are counted when

they are stored as means of meeting future wants. If we could not foresee wants of ourselves or of those dependent upon us, we could not gather means

of supply for those wants. If we had all wants supplied at a wish or a prayer, we should have no incentive to store. The pampered child whose every wish is

met has no clear conception of wealth or its uses. Let him be without a meal, and he seeks provision for the future by an effort to save what is left over

from his last meal and by exertion to add to his store in anticipation of want. Thus wants, to be met only by exertion, are the foundation of the universal

ideas of wealth, and whatever we have stored as a provision against wants becomes our wealth. If hunger were our only desire, our wealth would include

only stores of food, conveniences for storing, means of increasing the store, and means of utilizing the articles to be eaten. Each desire adds to the range

of articles which may enter our list of objects of wealth until enumeration is impossible. None of these, however, will be stored as wealth beyond the limits

of anticipated use: if so stored, they add nothing to the supposed wealth. An isolated family, able to consume only thirty bushels of potatoes in a season,

is not more wealthy from having three hundred bushels stored: the wealth is measured by actual relations to wants not otherwise supplied. Even in a

populous city, the three hundred


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