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In 1853 William Rathbone Greg Said, ‘The First Duty Which The Great Employer Of Labour Owes To Those Who Work For Him Is To Make His Business Succeed

1889 words - 8 pages

To understand William Greg and what his statement meant it is important to know what his background was. His father was the owner of the Quarry Bank Mill one of the earliest mills in the Manchester region which unlike the later mills used water power to run the mill rather than coal power, also Greg's father was a Methodist and because of there moral grounding in their faith he did a lot for his workers such as build them decent housing with little garden plots as well as take the time to teach the young children. While he did this though he did have an eye to the main reason he was running his business and that was the profits and so there was not a large wage that came with working at his factory unlike the factory of Ancoats. Greg would have seen this as growing up and learnt from his father knee the first duty of an employer. This Assignment will focus on whether people agreed with his statement and if they did not why they didn't.

Around the time that Greg wrote his statement above, there were many in the government and business who agreed with his statement and went further by making everything subject to the will of the free market or political economy. This idea of how the country should be run came from the people such as Adam Smith (1723-1790) and Robert Maltus (1766-1834), In Smiths arguments and writings he proposed the idea of the operating market which meant the free market and that the market if left to it self would act as a hidden / invisible hand with society (reference the open university book Voices and Texts in Dialogue) that would lead to a good out come for all. Maltus wrote about the relationship between economic development and the growth in population, meaning that if the working class/ poorer classes were to be given a higher wage and this would lead to them being able to produce more children and from this it would outstrip the current food supply, from this we can see the a support for Greg idea when he wrote 'The plain truth is, that neither the most boundless benevolences, nor the most consummate ability, can fight against the clear and moral laws of the universe' (Greg, 1853, pp. 282, 284 and 290). These two men were among other who believe that the market should be left alone to do what it does the best and that no government regulation should be imposed, these ideas did carry on till the late 1800's as we will get to and we can still see the ramification of these idea's in policy today. As will be shown later there were people who opposed these ideas but they were unable to provided a solution at the time, the idea's will be adapted later in the 1800's.

When Greg wrote his piece about the first duty of the employer there were many who disliked and opposed the idea that to leave everything to the 'hidden hand' and did what they could to speak out against it, many who spoke out were well known voices and applied their unique fields for example Elizabeth Gaskell and Charles Dickens chose to use their skills...

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