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Page 3 of Mountain Life & Work vol. 08 no. 2 July, 1932

Part of Mountain Life and Work

Idly, 1932 MOUNTAIN LIFE AND WORK Page 3 The Church and Modern Industrial Problems SPENCER MILLER, JR.'` It is a very great privilege to be invited to participate in this conference of mountain workers. I find it a very opportune time to come to this section of the country to discuss the problems of industry in relation to the church. You have, in this section of the country, a situation which has become particularly acute in the last few months. In attempting to consider this situation, however, we must view these conditions in the light of our whole industrial development and our industrial relationships. We must not give snap judgments. Another danger is that our lives may be so close to the conditions which we wish to consider that we cannot see what is actually going on. I remember that when I was a boy my father showed me a silver dollar. "Remember," he said to me, "that when you hold this dollar to your eye it will blot out the sun itself." That is what we have been doing to so many of our sociological and economic problems. We have been too close to them. The general subject of the relationship of the church to industry turns of course on the problem of human relationships and business. Modern industrial problems are largely problems of human relationships. I shall consider four aspects of modern industrial problems-the problems of production, distribution of work, distribution of wealth, and distribution of the control of wealth. Today we see that the average mechanical production of the American worker has increased greatly in the last few years. It is startling to see what statistics reveal. In the decade 19091919 mechanical production had increased 11 per cent. With the coming of the Great War, there was a remarkable increase in the mechanical production of America. We find this increase of per capita production for the American worker to be 50 per cent in 1919-1922; and in 1922-1929, during seven years alone, there was a per capita increase in production of 76 per cent. By the "A report of the address made by Me. Miller at The Conference of Southern Mountain Workers. end of that period we found that we needed 7 per cent less working force. We find that there has been a 76 per cent increase in per capita production, with two million less people engaged in the work of production. As we survey the whole field of per capita production, we find that these increases have not come in old forms of industry, but particularly in the new industries, such as the automobile industry and the manufacture of automobile tires. In these two industries the average per capita production in a little over ten years has increased 200 per cent. Per capita production in the boot and shoe industry has increased 25 per cent; in the paper and pulp industry, 40 per cent; and in iron and steel, 55 per cent. With this increase in productivity comes the attendant problem of technological unemployment, or "occupational obsolescence." For instance, in the automobile industry 35 workers are able to accomplish what 100 did in 1914. As a'llustration of this startling * n I I I increase, we have the factory for the manufacture of automobile frames by the A. O. Smith Company of Mil waukee, where the work is almost entirely a me chanical process. Seventeen thousand frames a day are turned out by a process requiring only 300 men. If we used the same methods which were used forty years ago in the manufacture of carriages, the entire working force of this country would be busy, and then would be able to supply only one-fourth of the frames that are produced today. We know what is happening in the railroad industry today. We find that, as has been discovered in the moving of coal, the automobile is offering serious competition for the railroads, and the new highways which have been developed have diverted so much travel and freight from the railroads that the railroad industry, once the backbone of our country's industry, has fallen to a low estate. Besides this, the railroad industry has been carrying on a process of increasing the per capita production. For the period 1923-1929 we find that 30,000,000 ton miles

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