For some time we have been concerned about the words, “Labor” and “Capital”—particularly as they are used commonly with reference to employee and employer.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of labor is “physical or mental toil; work.” Capital, in the same dictionary, is defined as “an aggregation of goods used to promote the production of other goods.” And a capitalist, “one who has capital.”
It follows, then, that a lathe hand is not any more of a laborer than a girl operating a typewriter in the shop office—or a man doing scientific work in the laboratory. By the same token, anyone who has an insurance policy, a home, a car, a share of stock or a little money in the bank is a capitalist.
So, by definition, we are all capitalists—and all of us who work are laborers.
The thing that bothers us—and the thing that promotes misunderstanding between-groups of our population—is the extreme interpretation placed upon both words these days.
The vicious picture of a capitalist as a bloated tycoon and a laborer as a poor, beaten-down individual is as dangerous as it is distorted.
This picture is fostered by newspapers seeking sensational headlines and provocative cartoon material.
It is fostered by politicians who have learned that one sure way to win an election is to set one group of our people against another—farmers against business men, colored men against white, labor against capital and so on.
It is fostered by unscrupulous men who have come into control of some of our labor unions—men who believe that the size of their salaries depends directly upon the intensity of the hatred they can stir up.
So it seems to us that it’s about time to correct this worn-out interpretation of the two words, “labor” and “capital.” It’s time we realize that we’re all in the same boat and that boat will drift into the deadly stream of dictatorship and communism if we don’t set it on a straight course before it’s too late.
A true understanding of the terms “Labor” and “Capital” will be a long step in the right direction.