They assumed that this ideal would be best secured by "perfect competition." The employer would choose the worker who would come for the lowest wage; the worker would choose the employer who would pay him the highest wage; and so, by a process similar to the higgling of a commodity market, the desirable uniform wage-level would become established.
It is with all classes of Labor, in the broadest sense of the term, that we must here concern ourselves. It will be convenient, however, in the first instance to ignore the differences between them, and to consider the forces which determine what we may regard as the general wage-level. The general laws of supply and demand hold good.
But it is none the less an illusion to suppose that the general wage-level can be appreciably and permanently raised by trade union action, except in so far as it increases the efficiency of the workers or incidentally stimulates the efficiency of the employers. The Supply of Labor in General.
There is no good reason to suppose that the general wage-level would be reduced, merely because work as a whole became less irksome, or involved a smaller physical or mental strain. The supply of people is not determined by the same kind of influences as is the supply of a commodity.