The New Age – January 11, 1934 – No.: 2157 – Vol. LIV. – Pages 126
If something is made to sell at cost (as calculated on orthodox accounting principles) it should last no longer than the time taken to make it.
If it takes ten days to build a house, and the house will last for only ten days, then after the tenth day one-tenth of the house can be re-built every day, and so on indefinitely. The builders of the house can occupy it continuously because they are getting replacement wages continuously.
If the house lasts twenty days they can occupy only one-half of it, because they will replace only one-twentieth of it per day and therefore receive only one-half their former replacement wages.
If it lasts fifty days they will all have to live in one room.
If one hundred days, they will have to camp out.
If much longer, they will occupy a cemetery.
Hence one can formulate a law about the dwelling-house, namely that the highest rate of dilapidation gives the highest measure of occupation. While it is falling down it is full up: but when it is standing up it is empty. That is the justification for the general policy recommended to manufacturers by the Prince of Wales, not to make things of too high a quality.
This law is being recognized not only in the trade-papers and popular newspapers, but in the humorous Press. For example listen to this:
Passing Show of December 14 exhibits a picture of an imposing and mysterious machine. Two figures are inspecting it, one of them being the inventor, who says to the other: “There, sir, you have before you the only cure for unemployment: a machine that does the work of one man and takes a hundred of ‘em to operate it.”
One may imagine this machine to be let us say, a combination of house-building and house-breaking mechanisms, so geared that it will knock down one hundred bricks for every brick it lays
. But as this is difficult to picture let us say that it digs a hole in the ground of one hundred times the cubic capacity of the brick it lays in the hole. The physical consequence of this would be that in the course of time the first house would emerge out of the ground at the antipodes bottom upwards, with others following behind. Since according to the inventor of the machine its operators receive wages equivalent to one hundred houses for each house built they will emerge on the other side as occupiers of at least one house each (and rent-money for any number more). The hole has given then whole houses, so to speak. For this one can see the truth of the dictum: “We live by our export trade.” It also affords one the clue to the mystery of how it is we do not live by our export trade to live by. It is that we do not go with our goods to the places where they go to. J.G.