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which simply establish our own theories. A careful examination of the reports of the various bureaus of the United States proves conclusively that the men in charge, as a rule, recognize this fact. The critics of their work are usually men who dislike the results thereof, and have no other course open to them than to criticise methods and men. So far there has been no successful attack upon the work of the various bureaus, and this is because the conclusions stated by the officers in charge have been simply statistical deductions and not opinions, not theories, but the results of actual investigation; and so far, also, there has been no successful refutation of any important statistical deductions of the older bureaus of the country, except maybe in two or three instances, and there the officers themselves have discovered the error, and frankly stated it to the public.
The old idea of securing information to coincide with certain views, or to establish theories, has passed away, and the importance of exact knowledge is now clearly realized.
Labor leaders formerly felt it incumbent upon the labor bureaus to advance and to advocate doctrines, or to present schemes for the amelioration of bad conditions or the adjustment of profits. To-day, these leaders all understand that the workingmen's interests are best served by a study of all the facts relating to production, and the conditions surrounding it. When bureaus of statistics of labor were first organized, the idea prevailed among labor men, and in their organizations, that the province of these bureaus was to discuss principles and methods of reform, and to urge them upon legislators, thereby making official lobbyists of the bureaus.
The complications arising from this view did much to retard the growth or progress of the bureaus, because each body of men who thought alike upon an important matter urged its views, and the bureaus, if they adopted any one view, were sure to antagonize all men holding others. It was simply statistical suicide to undertake to follow theories of action. Since the first half decade of their history, however, the attention of the various offices has been directed, almost without exception, to the collection, classification, and publication of facts surrounding production.
In consequence of meagre appropriations, the majority of the bureaus have been obliged to confine their investigations to the simplest topics; that is, to the collection of statistics relating to wages and earnings, the cost of living, and kindred primitive matters. Now, under the more enlightened appreciation of their work which prevails, they are beginning to reach out for deeper and more underlying facts, which shall determine the actual conditions necessary for successful production, successful both to capital and to labor. Labor sees that it can be benefited most by a knowledge of exact facts, whether such facts appear to favor it or not. The great labor organizations perceive this fully, for they are now educational in their own work; and, to be educational, they must have information which it is impossible for them to secure. They need the government back of the statistics they wish to use, to make them authentic.
With this brief review of the character of the work of the bureaus, their uses are readily seen. Legislatures are using them to carry on special investigations, to make distinctive inquiries on matters coming up for legislation; and so long as politics do not enter into the administration of such offices, so long as governors will look to the interests of education and not of politics, the personnel of the bureaus will be kept outside of political ranks. The newer bureaus of the country suffer most in changes, but the opinion is gaining ground that permanence in the administration of a statistical office is necessary to its success: they are, however, doing most excellent service, and that which legitimately belongs to them,- that is, in ascertaining all facts relating to the industrial, educational, moral, and social conditions of the people. That this valuable work is done so well, with generally such poor financial resources as are given them, is greatly to the credit of the various offices. Some of the bureaus are well equipped; but, as a rule, they do not have half money enough to enable them to do their duty satisfactorily. It is encouraging to know that improvement is being made in this direction.
Among the most important topics which have claimed the attention of the State bureaus, and under which original investigations have been made, there may be mentioned: the employment of child labor in manufactories; the education of such children; the condition of tenement houses or homes of low-grade laborers in cities; the hours of labor; wages and earnings; strikes; cost of living; relation of savings banks to the people; condition of operatives; moral, industrial, and sanitary condition of workingwomen; the truck system of payment of wages; accidents in manufacturing establishments; co-operation; conciliation and arbitration; comparative wages and prices in different countries; pauperism and crime; the unemployed; convict labor; drunkenness and liquorselling ; crime; divorces; the sanitary condition of working people in their homes and employments; effects of certain forms of employment on female health; the influence of intemperance upon crime; profits and earnings ; liability of employers for personal injuries to their employees; industrial education ; the working of mines; Sunday labor; health statistics of femaie college graduates; profit-sharing; food consumption; farm mortgages; and many other topics of more or less importance.
The United States Bureau devoted its first annual report to the question of “Industrial Depressions”; its second to “Convict Labor”; the third to “Strikes and Lockouts” during a period of six years in the whole United States; while the fourth will be devoted to the general economic, moral, and social conditions of workingwomen in great cities. It is also at work, under special Congressional instruction, upon a report covering the divorces and marriages of the whole country for a period of twenty years, giving, for divorces, the causes and all the available facts which may be gathered from libels of divorce. It is also engaged in a wide investigation relating to the railroad labor of the country.
The United States Bureau was organized in January, 1885, in accordance with an act of Congress passed in June, 1884. In June, 1888, an act was passed erecting the Bureau into an independent department, under the name and title of the Department of Labor. This Department will carry on the work of the Bureau as if no change had taken place, but the Department is charged with various specific duties. Among the most important of these specific duties are investigations on propositions which have been discussed from the platform of this association, such propositions having been adopted by Congress and made part of the obligatory duties of the Department of Labor.
In 1884 I had the pleasure of presenting to the association the necessity for a scientific basis of tariff legislation, and in the treatment of the subject laid down certain propositions which, to my mind, were necessary to the securing of such a basis, the chief features of which related to a collection of facts on a broad scale in America and Europe, which should show the cost, including all elements, of producing articles dutiable in the United States, together with such facts as would show the efficiency of labor in various localities. In the great discussion on the tariff question in the recent session of Congress, these factors were missing. The whole debate — almost every one of the one hundred and fifty
speeches delivered in the House of Representatives — showed the necessity of a line of facts from which accurate conclusions could be drawn relative to the cost of production, the efficiency of labor, and the distribution of the total product under various commercial systems. When it became evident that a bill creating a Department of Labor would be passed, the friends of statistical science were alive to the importance of securing provision for the collection of such statistics as I have indicated. So the law creating the Department of Labor, besides the general duties imposed upon it, which are that it shall acquire and diffuse among the people of the United States useful information on the subjects connected with labor in the most general and comprehensive sense of that word, and especially upon its relation to capital, the hours of labor, the earnings of laboring men and women, and the means of promoting their material, intellectual, and moral prosperity, made it specifically the duty of the Commissioner of Labor, at as early a date as possible, and whenever industrial changes shall make it essential, to ascertain the cost of producing articles at the time dutiable in the United States, in leading countries where such articles are produced, by fully specified units of production, and under a classification showing the different elements of cost, or approximate cost, of such articles of production, including with the other facts the wages paid per day, week, month, or year, or by the piece, in the industries involved ; the hours employed per day, and the comparative cost of living, and the kind of living, of men producing such articles. Here was the fruit of the seed sown by this association, and in this respect the establishment of the Department of Labor was an immense stride in the interest of statistical science. But the bill did not stop here. It took up the question of the general progress of our industries. In our discussion of the problems of the census last year, it was shown that one of the chief wants of the times was the frequent collection of statistics showing the products of industries. The act creating the Department of Labor specially charges it upon the Commissioner to establish a system of reports by which, at intervals of not less than two years, he can report the general condition, so far as production is concerned, of the leading industries of the country. We need not discuss the value of such a provision. To remove apprehension from the public mind is one of the leading uses of statistical science; and the frequent collection of facts as to products, by which the country may know whether its leading industries are thriving or drooping, is one of the most essential moral elements of statistical work. Through such a system of report as that indicated by the law creating the Department of Labor, apprehension may be removed, and that feature of industrial depressions which grows from fear deprived of its force. The act further specially charges the Commissioner to investigate the causes of, and facts relating to, all controversies and disputes between employers and employees as they may occur, and which may tend to interfere with the welfare of the people of the different States, and report thereon to Congress. It has been evident during the past few years, when great interstate strikes have occurred, that, could the facts surrounding such strikes be made known at once through authentic and official sources, they would be robbed of much of their terror; or, if the public could know with reasonable certainty the exact causes of the pending controversy, and thereby be enabled to fix the responsibility upon one or the other party, the strike would soon come to an end through the very power of public opinion. Heretofore these causes and surrounding conditions have been made the subject of newspaper comment or investigation, each side making prominent its own facts; but no systematic investigation and report as to such causes and surrounding conditions have yet been made within a reasonable time of the occurrence of the strike. The value, therefore, which must come from the provision cited is great indeed. All these matters are familiar to the members of this association, and they are fairly entitled to congratulate themselves that they have in another instance proven the
of their influence in bringing to public attention some of the most vital questions which make for the welfare of humanity. The association has impressed itself upon the public mind regarding many of the great questions which have been crystallized into legislation. Quietly, yet forcibly, has the association worked in the past to create public sentiment in favor of this or that reform, of the establishment of this or that institution, but all looking to the general progress of the human race, caring but little for the glory which may come from such institutions, contented simply by making the active workers in legislative matters feel the necessity of legislation. So it is true that this great chain of bureaus, coming in close contact with the people of twenty-one States, and through the central organization at Washington with the people of the whole country, constitutes a powerful ally of this association,- so powerful now and so extensive that it might be more appropriate