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and perhaps impair their strength; but this fear is imaginary. All salaries, when paid freely and voluntarily, are the price of a service requested and received by him who pays for that service; whether the service be necessary, useful, or agreeable, is of little consequence; so long as it is demanded, its price is re-produced by more labour and a greater re-production. Unless a nation ruin itself by its diversions, (which is improbable,) it necessarily creates all the produce that is to pay for the pleasures which it voluntarily provides for itself. It is even to the necessity of raising its produce to the level of such salaries that general labour is indebted for its progress, society for its prosperity, and private and public wealth for its indefinite extension. Far from restraining the developement of the labours calculated for amusement, they ought to be favoured, encouraged, rewarded ; because this is the only way of giving them the greatest intensity, of increasing the population of the country, carrying wealth to the highest pitch, and attaining the highest degree of power to which civilized societies can arrive. It is a delusion to suppose that labours, calculated to amuse, ought only to be maintained by the surplus of other labours ; they would not exist, if they were to wait for that tardy and uncertain event; they ought to precede, to produce this surplus, and use it to re-produce it and increase its force. Useful labours would stop at the produce necessary for their support, if they were not stimulated by amusements; and it is only by striving to obtain that surplus of labour to which amusements give birth, that nations can arrive at opulence.
Let it not be supposed, however, that all amusements indiscriminately have the effect of stimulating productive labours and obtaining a larger produce. They have this effect only when they are paid freely and voluntarily ; the re-production of its price is the absolute condition of the free and voluntary request of the service. When labours are paid by constraint, it is to be apprehended that their forced wages will not be re-produced ; that they are taken from the produce necessary for the support of the labours by which they are paid ; that these labours will suffer from a limited supply of their wants; that production is diminished in proportion to their privations; and that wealth, attacked in its source, will be rapidly exhausted.
Except this case, which deserves a peculiar attention, the price paid for amusements by productive labour, is the creator of wealth, and can alone insure its indefinite progression.
The French economists were evidently mistaken, when they thought that agricultural labours ought to be encouraged and amusements restricted; and that nations are more or less provided with the conveniencies and necessaries of life according as the number of those who are employed in useful labour is proportioned to that of those who are not so employed. The labours calculated to amuse are productive like useful labours, and the produce of general labour is always in the compound ratio of both. None therefore ought to be excluded or preferred; they ought all to be encouraged.
A much more serious difficulty, and the solution of which is much more important to the progress of political economy, is to know which kind of labour is the most productive. All labours are undoubtedly productive, but they are not all productive in the same degree. It is therefore useful to determine which is the most productive.
There is no doubt that the most productive labour is always that labour, the produce of which is most abundant, cheapest, and most easily and most generally sold. Is there any produce eminently possessed of that quality, and can it be had any where at pleasure ? I think not. Every country has its peculiar advantages, which other countries may envy, but of which it cannot be dispossessed. Were nations reasonable and alive to their true interests, they would all direct their labour exclusively to the produce which they can obtain in greatest plenty, at the lowest price, and which is sure to find a ready sale every where, because all other countries are deprived of it, or cannot raise it but at a greater expence and of an inferior quality. Were the general labour to follow this direction, wealth would rapidly attain the greatest possible expansion; all nations would share in it in proportion to their natural or acquired advantages, and none would have any reason to complain of its share when conformable to the nature of things and founded upon the etermal laws of necessity.
But nations are very far from giving to their labours a direction which would be useful and profitable to all. Strongly attached to the system of monopolies, of reciprocal exclusions, high duties, and privileges, they impede the circulation of the produce of foreign labour, even when it is most advantageous; they condemn themselves to consume none but the produce of national labour, though the most expensive, the least favoured by nature, or least improved by industry; and they deny themselves the incalculable advantages which each would find in the exchange of its produce for the universality of the produce of other nations. But even when nations persist in this wrong path into which they have been betrayed by error, they ought to prefer the labours of manufactures and commerce to those of agriculture; because manufactures and commerce are less exposed to chance and more susceptible of improvement; by varying and multiplying enjoyments, they offer a gradual encouragement to agriculture, and have a salutary influence upon general labour. In investigating the causes of the wealth of nations, men have been more anxious to determine the proper and particular effect of each labour taken separately, than to discover its co-operation with general labour. Calculations extremely ingenious have been resorted to for the purpose of ascertaining the quantity of the produce of each separate labour, as if it did determine the sum of wealth ; and the circumstance has been overlooked, that it influences wealth only up to its value, which is determined by the competition of all other productions, by the want which the commodity supplies, and the demand there is for it. No attention has been paid to the true promoter of all labours, to the enjoyments which all men desire, and to the influence which these enjoyments have upon labour in general: on the contrary, amusements, to which we are indebted for those enjoyments, have been stigmatized as unproductive. Men have flattered themselves with arriving at wealth by privations sooner than by enjoyments; and the necessaries of life have been supposed a safer guide than superfluities. To commit a greater mistake is impossible, and how the genius that has carried the torch of light into the dark recesses of political economy could be betrayed into this mistake, is inconceivable : but there are truths which are not perceived before all errors are dissipated, and which derive the brilliancy of their evidence from the truths by which they are preceded and surrounded. Had it not been for the discoveries derived from particular inquiries into the labours of agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, and into useful labours and those that are not so, we should feel little disposed to believe in their reciprocal influence upon general labour, and we should reject the consequence were not its premises demonstrated. Let us, therefore, beware of arraigning the founders of the science for not having reached the goal ; let us not forget, that it was they who pointed it out to us, and that it is only through their assistance that we attain it; and whilst we reap the fruits of their efforts, let us pay them that tribute of admiration and gratitude to which they are intitled. Though all private labours are contributing to production and wealth, they are yet subject to the influence of several causes which accelerate or retard their progress, and favour or endanger their success. In agricultural labours, concentration of labour, or large farms, increase the power of the farmer, econo