Chapter 10, Part 2c

Inequality by Increasing Competition Through Wage subsidies

January 1, 2020

B. The Economic Policy unnaturally increases the competition in some employments, leading to an opposite inequality


88-89 Many pensions, scholarships, exhibitions, bursaries, etc. were founded for the education of young people.

  • These draw many more people into those trades than natural.

In all Christian countries, the education of most churchmen is paid this way. Very few of them are educated at their own expence.

Those who pay for their own long, tedious, and expensive education will not always get the suitable employment.

  • The church is crowded with people educated with scholarships and pensions.
  • They are willing to accept much smaller pay than normal.
  • This way, the competition of the poor takes away the reward of the rich.

It would be indecent to compare a curate or a chaplain with a journeyman in any common trade. The pay of a curate or chaplain is of the same nature with the wages of a journeyman. They are all paid according to their contract.

After the middle of the 14th century in England, five merks was the usual pay of a curate or stipendiary parish priest. It had as much silver as 10 pounds of our present money. It was regulated by the decrees of different national councils. At the same period, 4 pence a day, was the pay of a master mason. It had silver equal to a shilling of our present money, 3 pence a day, equal to nine pence of our present money, was the pay of a journeyman mason. The wages of both masons., constantly employed throughout the year, were much superior to the wages of the curate. The wages of the master mason, employed 2/3 of the year would have fully equalled them. The 12th of Queen Anne, c. 12, declared that the curates were meanly supplied.

90 £40 a year is a very good pay for a curate. It empowered the bishop to appoint a stipend of 20-50 pounds a year.

There are many curacies earning under £20 a year. There are journeymen shoe-makers in London who earn £40 a year. There is rarely an industrious worker in London who does not earn more than £20 a year. £20 is frequently earned by common labourers in country parishes. Laws frequently lower wages than raise them. The law attempted to= raise the wages of curates many times oblige the rectors of parishes to give them more than the wretched maintenance they are willing to accept In both cases, the law was ineffective. The law was never able to raise the wages of curates or sink the wages of labourers. It was never able to hinder curates from accepting less wages due to their indigence and numerous competitors. It was never able to prevent workers from receiving more due to their employability and the lack of competition.

91 The great benefices and other ecclesiastical dignities support the church’s honour.

The respect paid to their profession compensates their small monetary recompence. In England and all Catholic countries, the lottery of the church is in reality much more advantageous than necessary. In the churches of Scotland, Geneva, and other Protestant churches, many learned, decent, and respectable men enter holy orders drawn by moderate benefices.

92 In professions with no benefices, such as law and medicine, wages would sink if as many people were educated at public expence.

It might then not be worth it to educate one’s child to law or medicine at one’s own expence. The professions would be entirely abandoned and degraded.

93 Unprosperous men of letters are in the same situation as lawyers and physicians.

In Europe, most of them were educated for the church, but were not able to make it into holy orders. They were generally educated at public expence They are so many that their wages reduce the price of their labour to a very paltry recompence.

94 Before the invention printing, teaching was the only employment of men of letters.

This is more honourable, useful, and profitable than writing for print. The time and study, genius, knowledge, and application needed to qualify as an eminent science teacher are equal to those of law and medicine. But the usual reward of the eminent teacher is not proportional to the reward of the lawyer or physician because the trade of the teacher is crowded with indigent people educated at public expence. Many in law and medicine were educated at their own expense. The pay of teachers would be less if the competition of the poorer teachers who write for food was not eliminated. Before the invention of printing, a scholar was nearly synonymous to a beggar. The governors of the universities back then have often granted licences to their scholars to beg.

95 In ancient times, the rewards of eminent teachers were greater.

Socrates reproaches the teachers of his time inconsistently in his discourse against the sophists= Teachers promise much to their scholars and teach wisdom, happiness, and justice. In return, they stipulate the paltry reward of 4 or 5 minæ. Those who teach wisdom must be wise themselves. If any man sold something so important so cheaply, he would be making an obvious mistake.

This was before any charities for the education of indigent people to the learned professions were established,

Socrates certainly does not exaggerate the reward.

  • 1 minae is equal to 800 pence
  • 5 minae must have been usually paid to the most eminent teachers at Athens.

Socrates himself demanded 10 minæ or 8,000 pence from each scholar. When he taught at Athens, he had 100 scholars. I understand this to be the number whom he taught at one time.

  • 100 scholars was not extraordinary for such a great city and for so famous a teacher who taught rhetoric.

Rhetoric was the most fashionable of all sciences.

  • He must have made 1,000 minae or 800,000 pence
  • 1,000 minae was also the Didactron or usual price of teaching by Plutarch.

Many other eminent teachers back then appear to have acquired great fortunes. Gorgias made a gift to the temple of Delphi of his own statue in solid gold, presumably not life-size. Plato was himself wealthy. He described the lifestyle of Gorgias, Hippias, and Protogroras, to be as splendid even to ostentation. Aristotle, after tutoring Alexander, was the most magnificently rewarded.

Teachers of the sciences were probably less common then than in subsequent ages when the competition reduced their pay and admiration.

The most eminent of them enjoyed consideration much superior to any similar profession today. The Athenians sent Carneades, the academic, and Diogenes, the stoic, to an embassy in Rome when Athens was still an independent republic. Athenians were most jealous of foreigners in public offices They must have had very great consideration for Carneades, a Babylonian.

96 This inequality is perhaps more advantageous than hurtful to the public.

It may degrade the profession of a public teacher. But the cheapness of literary education is surely an advantage. The public might benefit too if those schools and colleges were more reasonable.