Let them, therfore, not talk to us of “the cost of production” which raises the cost of skilled labour, and tell us that a student who had gaily spent his youth in a university has a right to a wage ten times greater than the son of a miner who had grown pale in a mine since the age of eleven; or that a weaver has a right to a wage three or four times greater than that of an agricultural labourer. The cost of teaching a weaver his work is not four times greater than the cost of teaching a peasant his. The weaver simply benefits by the advantages his industry reaps in Europe, in comparison with countries that have as of yet no industries.
Nobody has ever calculated the cost of production; and if a loafer costs far more to society than a worker, it remains to be seen whether a robust day-labourer does not cost more to society than a skilled artisan, when we have taken into account infant-mortality among the poor, the ravages of anæmia, and premature deaths.
Could they, for example, make us believe that the 1s. 3d paid to a Paris workwoman, the 3d. paid to an Auvergne peasant girl who grows blind at lace-making, or the 1s. 8d. paid to the peasant represent their “cost of production.” We know full well that people work for less, but we also know that they do so exclusively because, thanks to our wonderful organization, they would die of hunger did they not accept these mock wages.