« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
least degree, the character and constitution of natural law, or to avert its issues, of whatever kind they may be, yet the course by which it shall be undertaken to compel men in general to observe, and to conform to, that which any man, or any party of men, shall declare and prescribe to be natural law, may fairly be set down as not being within the limit of possibility. To discover, and to lay down, the true law and the precise course is an imperative duty; but when this has been done, many will be the deviations which men will make from a due and faithful observance of it. Every deviation will bring with it its due sequence and consequence. Then, every man is placed under the obligation. of contributing his due proportion of labour, so that the fruits or the results of labour may be supplied or possessed; and, likewise, of avoiding excessive indulgence of every kind. If he is not faithful on these points, the consequences are justly made, under the natural law, to alight firstly on the head of the delinquent; and, secondly, on the society of which he is a member. By these consequences, the delinquent is powerfully admonished of his fault, and a wholesome constraint for improvement is put upon him. He who will not pursue the course required for constructing a foundation for himself, the power to do so being imparted to him, and the necessity for doing so being known to him and felt by him, has no right to claim a resting-place on the foundation prepared by another man. At the same time, however, that this state of things is urged most forcibly on the consideration of those who have to maintain themselves by the exertion of simple labour, we have to see, and to acknowledge, that a large number of men in a nation that is far advanced in the possession of wealth and civilisation, not only escape all present penalties of these social delinquencies, but actually increase their wealth, and
this, by their continued disregard of social law; and that the effects of the social sinning of these rich and powerful men alight, not on their own heads, but on the heads of the innocent and weak, and chiefly on those who have to live by their labour; so that, as respects all these important circumstances, it may fairly be said, regarding the class of men who have to live by the demand for their labour, that "they are more sinned against than sinning."
Individual or private property, then, is an issue of natural law. The power of acquiring individual or private property, of holding it, and of determining the application of it, appends to the constitution of man as a FREE man. Moreover, the principle from which it is derived, is essentially necessary and indispensable for trying and proving the quality of each individual constitution and character. The motives upon which property is sought; the means or courses by which it is acquired; the uses to which it is applied; and the obligations connected with it; are the points to which the consideration of all men has to be directed, so that too much attention and pains cannot be bestowed for the purpose of attaining a full and correct development of the great subject.
A new law introduced into the science of Political Economy: the Law of Proportions. The Cause of Value, or the Law of the Creation of Wealth shown to be determined by the operation of the Principle of Proportions.
- The necessity for the operation of this law, discerned by Adam Smith, Malthus, and Locke; its character not thoroughly comprehended by these writers.
As the principle of the creation of wealth, upon which my argument is constructed, is advanced as constituting the foundation of the physical well-being of every community of people; and, moreover, as the operation of this principle is not confined to the foundation, or merely the earlier stages of social development, but is the indispensable guide in all circumstances, however increased, numerous, and complicated these circumstances may become; it is requisite that it be placed in the clearest light, and that its operation be viewed on all sides, so that the general applicability of its character may be fully discerned and acknowledged.
I will now, therefore, bestow further discussion on the subject-matter involved. I have shown, by my example of illustration, the injurious effects arising from the supply of commodities exceeding the demand for them. Now, by this state of facts, there is brought under observation a great and most important law, which is necessary for our guidance in appropriating all those materials of the earth which are provided for our use: this is the law of degree or proportions. Although this law has been noticed by some writers, yet I desire to call attention to it in a more especial manner, because, I maintain, that in this law, there is concentred the
whole physical or material truth of the great subject of which I am treating. I have to maintain, also, that it is owing to the various writers on the science of Political Economy having neglected, in laying down their premises, to mark the precise and important character and operation of this law, that their attempts to elucidate the science have been unavailing, and that their writings present such a mixed mass of that which is false with that which is true; and, hence, contradictory matter, promiscuously thrown together, being the mere offshoots of ideas, the unfounded ideas of each writer. I now propose to demonstrate the controlling and indispensable agency of the law of which I am treating.
It is evident that production is the object required, for, without production being in existence or having precedence, consumption cannot be. With regard, then, to the supply of any production whether it be food or any other commodity -being in a degree beyond that which one man may require for himself, I have shown that such surplus production can be made available, or valuable, only by the presence of something distinct from itself, that is, BY THE EXISTENCE OR
SUPPLY OF ANOTHER COMMODITY TO BE GIVEN AND TO BE RE
CEIVED IN EXCHANGE FOR IT. This is the principle of demand. Now I maintain, that to preserve regularity of motion, or a continuity of just action, the degree or measure of one thing must be equal with the degree or measure of another; that is, the supply of one thing must be equal with the supply of another; or, supply and demand be in just proportions. To show the operation of this important law, I will suppose the supply of one commodity to be represented by the number 10, and the demand for it to be represented also by the same number. Now, if the supply be increased to 14, and the demand to 12 only, the proportion is changed, and hence
must arise derangement in the value of the thing supplied; or, let the supply continue at 10, and let the demand decrease to 8; hence, it is evident, there will ensue the same effect as before, springing from the same cause, that is, occasioned by an excess of supply over demand, or a derangement of proportion. As demand is the regulator or sole cause of value, so, by the variation of its power, the things subject to it must be affected. Value being created solely by demand, so value is unmade, decomposed, diminished, or destroyed, by any variation or diminution of the influence, or the cause, by which it is constituted. By a reversal of the process by which creation is ensured, uncreation must ensue.
If we take a view of the law of proportions, with our minds divested of the influence they may have acquired by a knowledge of facts by experience, that is, if we have recourse to the method of reasoning à priori,—it will be evident, that it must, of necessity, be the great creating and regulating law. I will show this by that which follows. Thus, we may assert, that whatever the number of mankind may be, yet this number is destined to increase. I will suppose, for the purpose of my argument, that the number is small. Now, on this side, then, we have mankind existing in a small number; yet, on the other side, we have the matter of the world, as ordained for the use of man, existing in the crude abundance, sufficient for satisfying the wants of the greatest number that can be hereafter. Now, the quantity of anything required by the number 100, must differ largely from the quantity of the same thing required by the number 1000. Thus, with regard to the production, food there must be a given quantity required for a given population; and if this given population be 1000, and the quantity of food produced be equal to the want of 1500, it is evident that an error has been made on the side of production, that is, the law of