In this, the conclusion of F.W. Mattox’s speech on Christian Solutions to Modern Problems, he tackles the issues of big business, and of Labor/Management relations. It is incredible that something written primarily dealing with the social structure in the late 1940s is still so relevant to today’s social structure. But, as Mattox said, whenever the principles of Christianity are put into place, it doesn’t matter what the social structure is–it makes each person and endeavor better.
Enjoy this, the final installment of this series. And if you want to download the entire tract as a single pdf file, simply click here.
8. CHRISTIANITY AND BIG BUSINESS
There has been too much misunderstanding in regard to the place of big business in American life. Too long has it been pictured as a monster of evil. There is no ulterior motive for my defending it. I don’t own a penny’s worth of stock in any company. I have no special friends in the management of any big company. I’m just an ordinary college professor with a smaller than average income, but I listen to a fine radio— produced by big business. My food is preserved in a fine refrigerator. I drive my own car, take a trip on the train, or on occasions I travel the airlines, all made possible by big business. Last year I built a home. It contains a modern kitchen, automatic furnaces and three bath rooms. Where else in the world can a fellow like me enjoy such conveniences? And why can I afford it? Only because it is all inexpensive—thanks to the big business corporation, the American method that allows all of us to pool our strength. The keynotes of big business are economy of operation, maximum production and improvement of techniques so that lower selling costs will result. Most big business is owned by many stockholders who share in its profits. Stockholders invest money for tools that make the products all of us use. There is no reason for it to be corrupt just because it is big. There is no reason for it not having a heart. In fact it has.
In general, it works for the welfare of employees as well as stockholders. And in many companies, employees are also stock-holders.
The effort that some labor leaders and social planners are making to destroy harmony between management and labor is un-Christian. Big business will bring us increasing conveniences if those so engaged recognize they are a part of a great team. This mutual interest is the result of brotherhood and Christianity builds the most cohesive brotherhood known to man. The law of supply and demand regulates the type and quantity of production. Competition results, not only in better products at cheaper prices, but also in new products, expanded plants and more jobs. The results add up to a higher standard of living for all and this, too, is Christian. The government should serve only as a referee, and allow these natural laws to operate.
9. DOES CHRISTIANITY APPLY TO LABOR-MANAGEMENT PROBLEMS?
There is no limit to the practical applications of Christianity to modem life. No matter the sphere of activity in which one finds himself, he will be impressed with how accurately the Christian principles apply.
Let us consider the case of management in business. Christianity demands that modern management in business assume responsibility for the welfare of its employees. The manager of a business that employs a thousand men must say in his heart, “I am responsible for these families. I must see to it, if possible, that there is enough profit in this business to maintain continuous salaries at a living wage. This means that I must replace worn-out machines, and develop a backlog of capital that will see this business through recessions or depressions and take care of any adjustments made necessary by increased competition. I must not only provide for employees today, but look out for their future.”
This is a serious responsibility. It is a responsibility that labor has apparently failed to understand. Too many workers have the attitude that management is their enemy. This is truly unfortunate.
The gulf that has developed between management and labor is eliminated by the application of Christian principles. Management has the responsibility of assuring labor that both are friends and that the business is being operated in their behalf as well as in the behalf of stockholders and that the accumulation of “venture capital” is for their good.
Management has the responsibility of informing labor of the necessity for profits. From the Christian viewpoint, any business management that does not make profits sufficient to replace machines and provide a backlog of capital to care for plant expansion and enlargement so that sons of present employees might have some opportunity for employment, has not assumed its full Christian responsibility.
Christianity, therefore, demands that management assume responsibility for sound management. It is a serious matter to have a great number of human beings looking to you for food, clothing, and shelter. Christianity will cause this responsibility to be taken seriously. In view of these ideals, wages will be increased as much as is possible in the light of the above mentioned responsibilities. Working conditions will be improved in every manner possible, motivated by a feeling of brotherhood and mutual sharing of responsibilities.
10. THE CHRISTIAN DEMANDS UPON LABOR
Christianity gets down into the lives of every human and improves conditions and attitudes of all. The laborer must assume his share of responsibility, also. He must understand that if he receives $1.00 per hour for his work that he must create in that one hour, not only $1.00 in value that would come back in the form of reimbursement to his company, but he must create enough more than $1.00 in that hour to provide for the upkeep and replacement of his machinery, the upkeep and expansion of his plant, and additional value that will be stored back to provide for further emergencies in the time of depression or financial recession. This must come into the understanding of modern labor if there is ever to be harmony between labor and management. Christianity requires that labor assume these responsibilities.
In this, we see a formula for success that applies to every young man who wants to get ahead. Christianity would say to such a young man, “Your income can depend only upon the value that you create minus replacement of machines, required supervision, and a small deposit for insurance against future calamities.” The more a young man creates in value, and the more responsibility he assumes, the better care he takes of the machines, and the less supervision that is required to keep him on the job, the more income he can receive. In this way, a greater share of his creation of value belongs to him. Christianity gives one this feeling of responsibility.
There is no end to the applications of Christianity to modem life. The principles of honesty, fair dealing, sympathy, humility, as well as responsibility are applicable to every human being in every walk of life. A husband is a better husband for being a Christian. He is dependable, loyal, sympathetic, understanding, and kind. A wife is a better wife because of being a Christian on the same basis. Children are better children because of being Christians. Christianity lessens the harshness, the unkindness, and ill-will that has so marred human relations in the past and replaces these negative qualities with positive principles which improve human relations on every hand.
In society under the Caesars, human life was very cheap. Even those motivated by the very highest form of pre-Christian philosophy had not learned the value of a human life. The Roman Stoics, in their practice of slavery, would have no consideration for a slave who had become old and useless. There was no provision for his welfare and the only suggestion he would receive would be to take his own life. With the coming of Christianity into the world, every human institution felt its impact and through the years, society has come more and more into harmony with its idealism. Not only has the Christian idealism proved itself in practical applications, but stands ever ready to take humanity to still greater heights.
If modem society with its scientific know-how would work seriously to make Christian application to its social and economic problems, we would experience the dawn of a new day in which standards of living and human satisfactions would reach levels undreamed of in past generations. The challenge is to you to apply Christianity where you are today.