The rise of the factory system in England and the introduction of the policy of laissez-faire were, indeed, followed by a remarkable increase in the production of wealth; but inequalities of opportunity were not reduced to a minimum; the remuneration of labor did not tend to conform to a measure of substantial justice. Nearly the whole of the increase in wealth went to the newly-made capitalists, while the wages received by the laborers were barely sufficient to keep them alive. The leveling influence of competition was confined to the ranks of the workingmen, and its tendency was invariably downward. Starvation wages compelled husbands and fathers to send their wives and children into the mills, with the result that their own pay was still further reduced through this unnatural competition between husband and wife, between father and child. To such an extent did women and girls supersede men in the manufacturing industry that the latter frequently were obliged to remain at home to attend to the duties of the household. Children from the workhouses were impressed into the factories under a system of apprenticeship that rendered their existence ‘literally and without exaggeration that of slaves.’ In a word, ‘the obvious and simple system of natural liberty’ advocated by Adam Smith and his successors, brought, instead of a régime of justice, a period of horror that is known in economic history as the period of English Wage-Slavery.
John Ryan, Living Wage, 16-17.
I agree with Ryan here: Fuck Smith and his creepy idolatry in his economic theology of the invisible hand.