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actual delivery; hope is invested with all the prérogatives of reality; and, what is not one of the least remarkable phenomenons of this system, hope is not deceived, and the promised commodity is generally produced, because it has been promised. Strip the mercantile system of credit, enforce the actual realization of every purchase and sale, and, from that instant, more than half of the produce of labour will remain on hands without finding a consumer ; from that instant, more than half of the labourers will starve, and the annual produce will be diminished by half.
The same author adds, in support of his opinion, that the best way of opening markets to the existing produce is to multiply and not to destroy them.
This pompous paradox gives to political economy a mysterious and transcendent appearance little calculated to gain it friends among men of intellect, or to place it within the reach of attentive and studious inquirers.
He who wants toconsume the commodity produced by another, must undoubtedly give an equivalent for it; he does not obtain it for nothing. But must he have that equivalent ready, when he demands or gets the commodity of another; or, to use the very
words of the author whom I am refuting, " is the quantity of the commodities demanded, determined by the quantity of commodities in existence?” Undoubtedly not. The quantity of the produce in request may just as well be determined by the quantity of commodities which are expected and intended to be produced ; and provided their production takes place at
the appointed time, the interchange is as perfect as if the objects produced after the exchange had existed at the instant when the exchange took place.
When a manufacturer employs one thousand pounds in the establishment of his manufacture; when a merchant purchases goods to the amount of ten thousand pounds; when a ship-owner loads his vessel with merchandize amounting to twenty thousand pounds in value ; every one of them perhaps has not effects amounting to the tenth part of the commodities entrusted to him, and which he may consume or dissipate at his pleasure; and yet, if the proceeds of the manufacture, of the trade, and of the venture, produce the equivalent of the values consumed, the result is precisely the same as if the commodities produced after the exchange had existed at the time of the exchange.
Should it be objected that the manufacturer, the merchant, and the ship-owner, are not consumers, but mediators between the producer and the consumer, and that the interchange of which they are the agents is only completed by the return of the equivalents of the commodities exchanged; I observe that frequently these equivalents arrive but six months, twelve months, or two and sometimes three years, after the consumption ; often even the commodities consumed have served to produce their equivalent, and had they not been advanced, the equivalent would never have existed. There is therefore no necessity that the quantity of commodities in request be equal to the quantity of commodities actually pro
duced. It is almost always proportioned to the quantity of produce expected, and provided this expectation be not disappointed, (and in general it is not disappointed, wealth proceeds as rapidly and as safely in its growth, as if the quantity of commodi, ties in request were equal to the quantity of commodities in existence.
But if individuals may consume not only up to their actual income, but even up to that which they may obtain through additional labour, the case is not the same with government. When its expenditure, collectively with that of the nation, equals or xceeds the produce of general labour, all the calamities may be dreaded which result from the equality of consumption with production, and above all, from the excess of consumption above production. Whatever be the authority of government, whatever be the attachment of the nation to its government, and whatever plans may be devised, it is not absolutely certain that the contributors to the public expences will proportion their efforts to the magnitude of the burthen, that the produce will be equal to the increased consumption, that the balance will be in favour of the produce, or even that the equilibrium will be restored by additional labour or more economy. It is to be feared, on the contrary, that excessive contributions will discourage the contributors, and that they will labour less in proportion as they have more to pay. In short, wealth in this critical situation runs so much greater risks, as the evil is certain and the remedy unknown.
It is therefore the interest and duty of governments not to suffer the public expenditure to exceed that portion of general produce which is over and above individual and private consumption. On their moderation depends the wealth of modern nations. Governments alone can paralyse it, or give it an unlimit. ed impluse. Let them beware of checking the private and general efforts of labour, the universal tendency of all individuals to produce, to preserve, and to amass; and wealth will be unbounded, and their power will increase abroad and at home in the proportion of national wealth.
A nation cannot be styled rich and flourishing, unless its private and public expences be inferior to the produce of general labour, or unless it have every year a surplus left; and its wealth is so much the larger, as this surplus is more considerable.
Whenever the private and public consumption of a nation is inferior to the annual produce of general labour, the surplus is employed by every class of labourers in extending their labour, and in increasing and improving its produce.
The farmer devotes his surplus to augment his stock of cattle, to bestow more manure and more labour upon his lands, to inclose and to fence his fields, to keep in good repairs the buildings destined to store his produce, and to improve the engines, tools, and implements of husbandry.
The manufacturer gives a greater perfection to his machines, bestows more care upon the selection of raw materials, and, by giving higher wages to hiş labourers, he makes them work more, and obtains a larger and a better produce.
The merchant enlarges his speculations, extends his correspondence, explores new markets, and sells
All these ameliorations can only be effected by additional labour. But this surplus of simultaneous labour must be acquired in the first instance through the existing labourers, and it cannot be obtained but by offering them higher wages. The first effect of the annual surplus of income above consumption, or of the growing wealth of a country, is therefore a rise in the wages of labour.
This rise in the wages of labour would go higher every year with the annual surplus, and would be unbounded, if the number of labourers was not increased. But it is in the nature of things, that as soon as a labourer finds his situation rendered comfortable by high wages, he seeks to share his conforts with a wife, and their union is blessed with children in proportion to their comforts. Thus the disproportion of the number of labourers to the demand occasions high wages, and these high wages, in their turn, restore the proportion between the labourers and labour; and at the end of a certain time, increasing wealth has no other effect than to increase population.
If such be the inevitable effect of an annual surplus left to itself, if it have the double property of raising the wages of labour and increasing the population, two inexhaustible sources of wealth and power ;