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greater variations than corn, because commerce and industry have introduced a quantity of money superior to the quantity of corn with which agriculture has been able to furnish commerce; and particularly because money, by being abundantly diffused among all the classes of the people, has conferred a greater exchangeable value upon corn; stipulations to be paid in corn must therefore have become more advantageous than stipulations to be paid in money. But, if the military system had prevailed and concentrated all the precious metals in the metropolis and among a small number of individuals, would not the contrary have happened, and would not those stipulations to be paid in money, which are so detrimental to proprietors and creditors, and so profitable to farmers and debtors, have proved ruinous to the latter and favourable to the former? The stipulations to be paid in corn would have afforded results similar to those arising from stipulations to be paid in money. Let us therefore conclude, that men are deluding themselves when they imagine they can subject futurity to steady and permanent laws, and imprint on their power, which is limited and circumscribed by the fluctuation of events, the immensity and immobility of eternity. Whatever efforts we may make, we shall never be able to extend our dominion beyond the present moment, or to give, during this short space of time, a fixed and steady value to things. That value is subject to the laws of exchanges, and to the proportion of the demand to the abundance or scarcity, which is always fluctuating, and which cannot be fixed nor subjected to steady and permanent rules,
We must however acknowledge with Adam Smith, that this perpetually fluctuating value of things tends to being fixed, since it always gives the producers the equivalent of what their production has cost. Else productions that do not obtain this equivalent, this just return, would no longer be reproduced, or they would be reproduced only in a proportion calculated to re-establish the equilibrium of their exchangeable value. Thus a natural proportion is, as it were, established between the different productions of man's labour ; none has a lasting and permanent preponderance over the other, but up to what it has cost. Beyond this all are measured, not by their real, but by their relative value; not by their cost price, but by what they are worth. So that it is the exchangeable value which ultimately gives to every producer the equivalent of what his commodity cost to produce, and consequently secures the producers against loss. But does not this exchangeable value afford to some producers profits superior to those which it gives to others; and are commercial exchanges to be continued, and circulation to be maintained in its activity, in that case ? - In spite of the tendency of exchangeable value to insure to every producer the equivalent of what his production has cost, it yet cannot be denied that, wheu exchangeable value has reached this point, it is liable to vary and to grant to some producers advantages which it denies to others. Suppose a farmer expends, either in wages, interest of capital, or rent, one hundred pounds sterling, to grow fifty quarters of corn; whilst a manufacturer of woollen cloth expends only
seventy-five pounds to manufacture one hundred yards of cloth, the exchangeable value of which is one hundred pounds; it is obvious that the farmer, if he obtain only one hundred pounds for his fifty quarters of corn, is less benefited by a fourth or fiveand-twenty pounds, than the manufacturer; and that, as long as their respective situation is the same, the wealth of the manufacturer is progressive, and that of the farmer stationary. Adam Smith observes, that the superiority of certain labours and employments of capital over other labours and employments of capital cannot be of long duration, because those which are least favoured go over to the most favoured ones, and by their competition re-establish, if not a perfect equality, at least a certain proportion between the profits of all labours and employments of capital. This is, no doubt, the case when the exchangeable value does no longer afford to a labour or employment of capital, the equivalent of what its production has cost; because, in that instance, the smallness of the equivalent informs the producer of his loss : but it is difficult to conceive how this can happen, when the equivalent covers all the expences of the producer, when nothing informs him that what he has obtained as an equivalent has not cost so much to produce as his production. I am even convinced that it never happens in common life, and that among all labourers and employers of capital, there are not two classes, or perhaps not two individuals, capable of discovering which labours and which employments of capital yield
the best returns. Every one is attached to the labour or employment of capital to which he has given the preference; and when he begins to perceive that it is not as profitable as others in which he might have embarked, it is generally too late to quit his pursuit and to go over to that which he ought to have preferred. To inquire into the most advantageous employment of capital appears, after all, not desirable; the private wealth of certain classes and individuals resulting from the advantages which exchangeable value gives them, affords an incitement to general emulation, activity, and industry, and to aim at effecting a proportionate equality in the benefits of all labours and all employments of capital, would perhaps be attended with pernicious consequences. The case is different when the advantages which exchangeable value gives to certain productions are derived from bad laws or the partiality of govern
ments, and due to monopolies, privileges, and boun
ties. Discouraged by the privations to which they are doomed, and sometimes by the sacrifices to which they are forced, the labouring classes are then pining, they attach less importance to the increase of their capitals, and both their industry and wealth decline apace.
Except this highly important case, which is little attended to, I think national wealth has nothing to apprehend from, and cannot be injured by, the inequality of profits resulting from the various exchangeable value of the produce of labour which is circulated at home.
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But is the inequality of profits in the exchange of home for foreign produce equally harmless
Suppose a nation excels another in industry, in the accumulation of capitals, and in sciences and arts, and both nations interchange the produce of their labour; will not the productions of the industrious, enlighten‘ed, and wealthy country, have a more considerable exchangeable value, than those of the country inferior in knowledge, industry, and wealth As her productions are really better, more acceptable, and cheaper, will they not be preferred 2 And if the circulation of the foreign commodities meet with no obstacles, will not labour diminish in one country, and augment in the other; or, at least, will not one nation appropriate to itself the most lucrative labour, and steadily advance on the road to wealth, whilst the other, being confined to the least profitable labour, pines in continual and intolerable misery 2
Among the distinguished writers who hold this opinion, David Hume and Cantillon, in particular, think that rich nations are far from having the advantage in their dealings with poor nations, and that the latter generally get rich in the end at the expence
of the former.
“The advantages of a rich trading country,” says David Hume, “are compensated in some measure by the low price of labour in every nation which has not an extensive commerce. Manufactures gradually shift their places, leaving those countries and provinces which they have already enriched, and flying to others, whither they are allured by the cheapness of provisions