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lurgy, driving steam-engines, &c.] We should want no more grates or chimney-pieces in our sitting-rooms. What had previously been a considerable amount of property in the fixtures of houses, in stock in trade, and materials, would become valueless. Coals would sink in price; the most expensive mines would be abandoned; those which were retained would afford smaller rents. The proprietors and tradesmen specially affected by the change would lose, not only in wealth, but in the means of enjoyment. The owner of a mine whose rent fell from £20,000 a year to £ 10,000 would not be compensated by being saved the expense of fuel in every room except his kitchen. On the other hand, persons without fire-places or coal-cellars of their own would lose nothing, and the rest of the world would lose only in the value of their grates, chimneypieces, and stocks of coal; and all would gain in enjoyment by being able to devote to other purposes the money which they previously paid for artificial warmth. Still, for a time, there would be less [artificial] wealth; [and there would be permanently a great gain in natural wealth.] The capital and the labor previously devoted to warming our apartments, would be diverted to the production of new commodities. The cheapness of coal would increase the supply of manufactured articles, and there would then be as much wealth as there was before the change; probably more, and certainly much more enjoyment.”
As to the nature of the labor which ends in the production of wealth, it is justly remarked by McCulloch, that all the operations of nature and art are reducible to, and really consist of, transmutations, that is, of changes of form and of place. By production, in this science, is not meant the production of matter, that being the exclusive attribute of Omnipotence, but the production of utility, and consequently of value, by appropriating and modifying matter already in existence, so as to fit it to satisfy our wants, and contribute to our enjoyments. The labor which is thus employed is the only source of wealth. Nature spontaneously furnishes the matter of which all commodities are made; but until labor has been applied to appropriate that matter, or to adapt it to our use, it is wholly destitute of value, and is not, nor ever has been, considered as forming wealth. Place us on the banks of a river, or in an
orchard, and we shall infallibly perish of thirst or hunger, if we do not, by an effort of industry, raise the water to our lips, or pluck the fruit from its parent tree. It is seldom, however, that the mere appropriation of matter is sufficient. In the vast majority of cases, labor is required not only to appropriate it, but also to convey it from place to place, and to give it that peculiar shape without which it may be totally useless, and incapable of ministering either to our necessities or our comforts. The coal used as fuel is buried deep in the bowels of the earth, and is absolutely worthless until the miner has extracted it from the mine, and brought it into a situation where it may be made use of. The stones and mortar used in building houses, and the rugged and shapeless materials that have been fashioned into the various articles of convenience and ornament with which they are furnished, were, in their original state, destitute alike of value and utility. And of the innumerable variety of animal, vegetable, and mineral products, which form the materials of food and clothes, none was originally serviceable, while many were extremely noxious to man. It is his labor which has given them utility, that has subdued their bad qualities, and made them satisfy his wants and minister to his comforts and enjoyments."
We distinguish, then, three kinds of industry:
1. The labor of collecting and appropriating natural products. This includes the work not only of the agriculturist, or tiller of the ground, but of the miner, the huntsman, the fisherman, and all others who bring together for the use of man the various products of sea and land which satisfy his wants.
2. The tasks of the manufacturer, the mechanic, and the artisan, who shape, combine, and fabricate raw materials into forms fit for use.
3. The business of the merchant, who brings together the products of various climes, distributes them among the people in proportion to their means and wants, and equalizes the supplies and prices of commodities by storing them up for future use, or carrying them where they are most needed.
Again, the commodities which constitute wealth may be divided into two classes:– 1. The articles which are designed for immediate consumption, and which directly satisfy the wants of man, such as food and clothing, that are fit to be eaten and worn, the houses that shelter us, and the ornaments and luxuries that gratify our tastes. 2. The tools, implements, and raw materials, by means of which, or out of which, the former articles are made, but which, in their present shape, are not fitted for our immediate gratification or support. These last possess only a kind of secondary or derivative value, as they are prized, not for their own sake, but for what can be made out of them, or obtained by their aid.
THE MEASURE OF VALUE, AND THE DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH
AMONG THE COÖPERATING PRODUCERS OF IT.
Thus far it has been shown, that labor is not only necessary in fact for the creation of value, but enters into the very idea of it, so that, when the necessity for labor departs, the reality and even the conception of value vanish along with it. I now say that the labor required is a measure of the value produced. But here the word labor must be taken in its most comprehensive signification. I mean by it any human exertion whatever, corporeal or intellectual, which directly or indirectly overcomes or diminishes that difficulty of attainment which we have seen to be an essential element of wealth. The only measure of such labor is its comparative efficiency. Thus, the labor of one practised and skilful artisan is equal to that of at least three raw hands, or ordinary laborers, as they are termed; in some cases, it may equal that of many more. The labor, chiefly intellectual, of general superintendence and skilful direction of the operatives employed in a manufactory, may be measured by the ordinary labor which it saves, - that is, by the number of additional workmen, or the additional time, that would be needed if such superintendence were wanting; or it may be measured by the scarcity of the peculiar skill and tact which are required for such superintendence, — that is, by the difficulty of finding a competent superintendent.
So the value of a machine may be either the labor which it saves, or the labor which it costs. If, for instance, a manufacturer introduces a new machine, by the aid of which two men can do the work that formerly required ten men, (two more persons being required to build the machine and keep it in repair,) he will save the labor of six persons; and the value of this machine to him will be represented by six laborers working gratuitously. This will be the case, however, only so long as he can keep the machine a secret from other manufacturers, or enjoy the exclusive use of it. When its use becomes general, the general saving of labor, reducing the cost of the manufactured article, will also reduce its price; for that which costs the labor of but four persons will exchange for the labor of not more than four. No one will give anything more for any commodity than it would cost him to produce it for himself; and in the case supposed, any four workmen, by employing such a machine, might manufacture the article for them. selves. Now, then, the value of the machine will be only the labor which it costs; the articles produced by it will represent the labor of but four persons,
two to work it, and two more to build and keep it in repair.
The general law, therefore, that the labor required is a measure of the value produced, is subject to two limitations:the first is, that allowance must be made for the various degrees of efficiency of the several laborers employed; the second, that the maker has not the advantage of a patented machine or a secret process, which might enable him to produce the commodity by a smaller expenditure of labor than is usual. According to Adam Smith, a workman accustomed to the use of the hammer, but not accustomed to making nails, cannot manufacture usually more than 300 nails in a day; while such is the dexterity acquired by practice, that about 2,300 can be made in a day by a workman who has never exercised any other trade than that of making nails. The value of one day's labor of such a workman, in this manufacture, will be evidently equal to that of seven or eight days' labor by an ordinary smith. It is equally obvious, that the exclusive use of a machine, or a secret process, might render the articles produced by three ordinary workmen the full equivalent in value of those manufactured by thirty or forty hands working without any such advantage.
When the use of machinery has diminished the exchangeable value of certain commodities, the question may be asked, What has become of the difference between their former and their present cost? The difficulty of obtaining these commodities is diminished, the labor required to overcome that difficulty is consequently lessened, and therefore, according to the principles already laid down, less exchangeable value is created. Suppose cloth to be the commodity manufactured, and that the price was formerly ten cents a yard, while it can now be had for four cents. All of that cloth which is already in the market will now be held at only two fifths of its former value. What has become of the other three fifths ? Is this amount of exchangeable value destroyed, and is the introduction of labor-saving machinery, therefore, an evil to the community?
The answer is, in this case as in the former one, that the exchangeable value of the commodity is diminished; but what is taken away from that value is added to what I have called the natural wealth of the people, in distinction from their artificial wealth, - to the stock of those things, like the air and the sunlight, which are of preëminent utility, but, being universal and inexhaustible, cannot be exchanged for anything. That this is true may be seen at once by putting the extreme case. Imagine that the machine, instead of saving only three fifths of the labor, should save the whole of it. Imagine that some contrivance should be hit upon for producing cloth in unbounded profusion, no labor of man being required in any part of the process. It is obvious that we should then obtain cloth on the same easy terms on which we now obtain air and light. It would be an addition to the natural wealth of mankind; but as any person could have as much of it as he wished without difficulty, he would not give in exchange for it anything which had cost him labor; it would have no exchangeable value. And as a machine which would save the whole of the labor would transform the whole exchangeable value into natural wealth, so, if it saved but three fifths of the labor, it would add that three fifths to our natural wealth.
Observe, however, as before, that this result would follow only if the use of the machine became common. If its inventor or first introducer could keep it to himself for a time, he could exchange the cloth which cost him the labor of only four men