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you deaden the agricultural, manufacturing and commercial energies of a nation.
The supposition that the PROFITS-at least the excessive ProFITS- of one, are generally constituted of the loss of another, is totally unfounded. In an exchange between two manufacturers on equal terms, each gains, because each can manufacture cheapest in his own art. If the terms be unequal, owing to accidental deficiency of supply, or excess of want, on one side the PROFITS may be unequal; but the value received is equal : for the measure of value, so far as regards Riches, is Price. What is gained therefore by one, is not lost by the other; for the other receives an equivalent in value for that which he parts with.
EXCESS OF PRODUCTION. According to the theory of M. Say, there can be no Excess OF PRODUCTION, because he assumes that produce is always exchangeable for produce. But produce is not always exchangeable for produce, or for money, its representative. If one sort of produce exceed its due proportion to another; or exceed the wants it is intended to meet, it ceases to be exchangeable; it over-loads the market.
But it is not only from the failure of a due apportionment of one class of producers to another, that this Excess may arise. M. Say forgets that a large portion of produce is brought forth to supply the demands of Non-producers; and that if the means of these Non-producers are withdrawn, to that amount there may be an Excess of Produce in the market : or in other words, a want of sufficiency of that for which produce is exchangeable.
It is not therefore merely the existence of abundant produce and abundant money, in a country, which will furnish sufficiently the demands of a market. It is the apportionment of that produce and that money
ON SOME OPINIONS OF M. SAY.
I should now proceed to discuss this subject of the apportionment of products and money; but that it is necessary to clear my way in some degree by examining some opinions and reasonings of M. Say. This celebrated Economist, as he differs essentially
. from the definițion I have given of Riches, for the same reason is at equal variance as to what ought to be comprehended under the term Products. What he calls Immaterial Riches, viz. the services which Adam Smith and his school call unproductive, M. Say includes under the name of products.
« Permettez-moi," he says in Lettre I. à Mr. Malthus, p. 26, “ de remarquer en premier lieu que je n'ai pas dit que les marchandises (commodities) s'échangeassent toujours contre des marchandises, mais bien que les produits ne s'achètent qu'avec des produits."
Again, p. 46: “Les marchandises, dites-vous, ne s'échangent pas seulement contre des marchandises : elles s'échangent aussi contre du travail. Si ce travail est un produit que les uns vendent, que les autres achètent, et que ces derniers consomment, il m'en coûtera peu de l'appeler une marchandise, et il ne vous en coûtera pas beaucoup plus d'assimiler les autres marchandises àcelle-là ; car elles sont des produits aussi. Les confondant alors les unes et les autres sous le nom générique de produits, vous pourrez convenir peut-être qu'on n'achète des produits qu'avec des produits.”
But if this absurdly-enlarged sense of PRODUCTS were correct, and M. Say could thus establish that products can be exchanged for nothing else but products, the conclusion does not follow which he wishes to draw,- that products will always exchange for products; viz. that one kind of product can always find an exchange for another kind. If he does not make out this, he fails in the purpose for which this position is brought forward : for it is his object to show, that our late distresses could not have been the effect of superabundance, because he argues that the more that products are multiplied, the greater are the means, and the greater the facilities of exchange.
ON THE APPORTIONMENT OF PRODUCTS. Whatever be the means by which products are purchased (and it is clear that they may be purchased as well by what ADAM Smith calls unproductive services, as by actual products), it is obvious that superfluity and deficiency must depend not merely on the positive amount of the whole products and the whole means ; but on the apportionment of the parts and several sorts, both of produce and of means.
The products must be adapted and assorted to the wants of the market, and to the classes of purchasers who have the means of buying.
Now what can be more plain than this, that if a certain large portion of manufactured commodities has been hitherto demanded and consumed by half a million unproductive laborers, who are all at once dismissed from employment, this manufactured amount must glut the market, and cause the dismissal of an equal number of manufacturers ? and thus continue to act and re-act upon the whole community.
If it be said that the manufacturers may apply themselves to another species of produce adapted to the altered demands of the
market, it may happen either that no new demand starts up in lieu of that which has ceased; or that the former machinery, and skill of the former workmen, are unfitted to supply it.
The quantity of producers in a state of society in which industry aided by the greatest artificial means has arrived at a vastly increased production, continues unproportionally to augment in certain channels beyond the consumers.
This has been exhibited by the extraordinary impulse and activity given to labor, capital and skill in the last thirty years in Great Britain, to a degree which Adam Smith could not probably have imagined ; and which, if he could have foreseen it, would have induced him to have qualified his exclusive commendations of productive labor. ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PRODUCTS
AND MONEY. It seems to me that Say errs, not only in giving infinitely too extended a sense to the term products, but that he participates in a much more common error, by confounding Money with the other PRODUCTS, which, as all agree, constitute Riches.
There are two respects, wherein Money, in its character of coin, possesses a most important difference from other PRODUCTS.
First, that it is exclusively received, not on account of the use or pleasure it can administer in right of itself; but for the purpose of procuring something else : that is, merely as an instrument of exchange.
Secondly, that (taking Riches according to the definition I have given) it is a much more perfect species of Riches than any
other : for it has not only a more fired value in exchange than any other product -- but it is ALWAYS exchangeable. This can scarcely be said strictly of any other PRODUCT.
MONEY then, after all, is the test of exchangeability. Whenever those products, or services, which at another time exchange for Money, cease to be so exchangeable, or are only exchangeable for a lower and unremunerating price, it is a proof that there is a superfluity of them.
Whichever party in the desired exchange cannot command Money' (or that which is immediately exchangeable for MONEY) offers that, which is proved by this test, to be superabundant.
1 But it must not be inferred from hence, that every thing, when it can command money, such as labor, is then and therefore riches. The money is riches, as soon as received, tó him who has earned it; but the labor is not therefore riches to him to whom that labor is given in exchange. The quality possessed in common by the things mutually transferred, is erchangeability: but exchangeabiliiy is only one quality of riches.
This is a simple clue, by which to judge of the soundness of Say's reasonings. He uses essential words in so loose and unlimited a sense in his first letter to Malthus, that they mean every thing, and nothing ; and throughout he is so confused, inconsistent, and contradictory, that it is impossible to pursue his errations.
Whatever product ceases to be exchangeable for money, because it is superfluous, ceases to be Riches; whether the superfluity arises from want of means, or want of will to acquire it.
ON PRODUCTIVE AND UNPRODUCTIVE LABOR.
Sound and clear as is the distinction between PRODUCTIVE and UNPRODUCTIVE LABOR made by Adam Smith, whatever may be the attempts of the new school to shake it, yet the spirit of its very principle instructs us to refrain from carrying it to the literal extent, to which many indiscriminate followers of this master of the science are inclined to push it.
By productive labor is meant labor productive of Riches. There is a point of multiplication beyond which production ceases to be Riches:' for to be Riches, it must have an exchangeable or mai kelable value : but when it is brought forth in quantities unproportionally large, no demand for this excess can be found; either because there is no want of it, or because they, who want it, have no means to pay for it.
A disregard of this most important distinction has led many writers and many debaters on this subject into opinions, which every day's experience, as well as all solid reasoning, refutes. Mere quantity of production, whether from fertility of soil, or from human industry, does not constitute Riches. That augmentation, which forms a glut of the market, is not only not a gain; it is a loss. ON THE THINGS DENOMINATED IMMATERIAL
RICHES BY M. SAY. If M. SAY had called the unproductive services and other things to which he gives the title of IMMATERIAL RIches, one portion
· The practical truth of this must be fainiliar to the public, on the smallest consideration.
When commodities come first into the trader's warehouse from the manufacturer, they are estimated at a value, of which the measure is the market price. What remains in the warehouse after the demands of the market are satisfied, becomes of little more value than waste.
2 M. Say is so far from yielding to Malthus's ohjection to his Immaterial Riches, that the objection stimulates him to an infinite extension, instead of retraction, of this doctrine. He is no longer content with a portion of Immaterial Riches; he insists that all Riches are Immaterial!! His reasouing on this point is curious. He says, that Man cannot add an atom to matter: he can.only decompose, and recompose it! He then asserts, that I can distinguish between material and immaterial labor. Labor of both kinds may be productive; and of both kinds unproductive. But Labor is not Riches: it is only an ingredient of Riches ; and that only when taking a particular direction, and applied to certain objects.
of the means or stimulant of Riches by adding to the funds applicable to the exchange with Riches, his classification would have been both just and useful. But there is still less identity between Riches and the means of Riches, than there is between Riches and the Ingredient of Riches. In the latter case, who would say that the bricks, the stones, the tiles, the timber, of which a building consists, are therefore themselves a building ?
I agree with M. Say, that a large portion of the things thus named by him, are greatly contributory to Riches. I am firmly persuaded, that they are contributory, when those things which, as soon as they are increased unproportionally, and exceed a certain point, are improperly called productive, cease to be contributory.
Yet they are only indirectly contributory: they do not form part of the production itself; they only assist in directing the means of exchange into more advantageous channels.
But (as Malthus says of Lord Lauderdale's definition of Riches) an investigation of the nature and causes of all sorts of Riches i would pass the bounds of a single science. Still, among these causes, that of Unproductive Labor in a nation where agricultural and manufacturing riches have beeń raised to a great abundance, requires a new examination far more profound than it has yet received.
Malthus, uniting the most temperate investigation with the most enlightened views, seems to see this subject inits true colors. 2 But the present crisis of Europe, and especially of Great Britain, demands for it a developement yet unattempted.
I am myself prepared to apply it to the Poor Laws, in a way which seems to me the only probable remedy, or palliation, of that ruinous system : but as it will take the space, time, and laborious digestion of a volume, I forbear to give an imperfect anticipation of it in these brief observations.
So long as the public will mistake means for ends : so long as they will believe that Riches are valuable for themselves, and not for an ulterior object; so long as they will act as if endless accumulation were preferable to refined and innocent enjoyment, so the result and end of this change of form is utility: but, (he continues) utility is an immaterial quality; therefore Riches are immaterial !!!
i Or rather he should have said, of all that is useful, or agreeable to human
2 M. Sismondi's opinions appear to be the same as I have here advocaled, on this topic of primary interest.