The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72
Disadvantages of the Present System
Disadvantages of the Present System.
Nearly everyone is now convinced that the railway system is responsible for the tremendous overcrowding of the great cities, and for the depopulation of the country districts. Several writers have dwelt forcibly on the many and great evils resulting from this state of things, but so far as I am aware they have all failed to point out a feasible remedy
This overcrowding brings troubles untold in its train. By taking population off the land, production is decreased, and consequently there is a less and less demand for labour. Great masses of people being pent up in the cities—barred in by the invisible turnpikes mentioned above—poverty is soon largely increased. City dwellers are not producers; they are only exchangers and improvers.
The turnpike system absolutely compels manufacturers to locate their factories either in or as near as possible to the city page 26 which is the chief market for their products, because every mile they have to move their goods adds to the cost of production or distribution, or to both. For the same reason the workers in factories must live in cities; they cannot live on land, because every mile they move on a rail takes more and more from their small earnings. Now what is the natural result of this? The factories run on until there is a large amount of what is called over production. Then, what happens? Paying prices cannot be obtained, so an effort is made to reduce wages. Then the mills are run short time, and finally many of them are closed. What becomes of the workers? They are reduced to a state of