This section is from the "The Science Of Wealth" book, by Amasa Walker.
2d, The union of capital and labor will be most effective, when each is sure of its just reward. If the rights of man as a holder of property are sacred, and his rights as laborer equally so, the greatest motive to production can be secured. If otherwise, the creation of wealth will be restricted. Men will not work or save, unless sure of their reward.
There cannot come, out of the earth or heaven, a blow that levels all industry in the dust so quickly and hopelessly as wrong done between labor and capital.* Pestilence, drouth, or floods do not so thoroughly and permanently prostrate the strength and hopes of a country as a breath of suspicion on the union of the two great agents of production. Then comes an antagonism, indeed, fatal to both. There is hardly any climate or soil so unpropitious that man will not struggle on, earning his livelihood with much endurance, and laying something by for the future. There is hardly any government so rigorous as wholly to suppress the energy of its people. There is hardly any taxation so exhaustive that something still cannot be got out of Nature for man. In all these difficulties, the motive to exertion is not destroyed. But if foul play or legal fraud comes between labor or capital and their reward, the very life of industry ceases at the thought. The spring of work is broken. Its admirable parts, and its cunning mechanism are useless, motionless. The exactions and oppressions of the old regime had not so broken the spirit of France, but that her population and her wealth went on increasing, slowly, painfully, but constantly, certainly. The Revolution came; the Convention questioned the rights of property, confiscated the estates of nobles, and sequestered the entire endowment of the Church. Half this would have been enough for ruin. The industry of France dropped where it stood. In a few months, the Convention was devising schemes by which work should be provided by the State for all its citizens. Capital had fled to the dark places of the kingdom. Labor was helpless, crippled, starving. What had wrought all this? The violation of rights. Property was discredited; capital outlawed; labor prostrate.
* It will be recollected that production carried on by slaves is done wholly by capital: the producer being a chattel, the whole product is that of capital.
Labor is the first to suffer. Its wants are instant, immediate, vital. Capital, in such economical convulsions, has the privilege of leviathan. It can dive down to the depths, and give up breathing for a while. If labor goes under, it dies.
It is familiar to every reader of history how the brutal rapacity of the Spanish conquerors terrified the nations of Peru and the Antilles, and shut up the treasures of the New World in a secrecy that even torture could not break. The wisdom of the man that owned the hen that laid the golden egg has been embodied a thousand times in the acts of government. The result is never the enriching of one ; it is ever the ruin of all. Wealth itself becomes valueless, since it has no security in possession, and only excites the cupidity of the common tyrant.
If such is admitted to be the effect of occasional invasions of property rights, either in labor or capital, we shall be prepared to explain the barrenness of many countries the oldest and best endowed of the world.
The dreariness of Asia rises in eloquent vindication of the harmonies of natural law. A perfidious and cruel despotism has there made property undesirable. Man finds safety only in poverty and degradation. The Jewish is perhaps the only people that has pursued wealth steadily and unremittingly, in spite of injustice and robbery.