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Will they for this object incur the risk of losing a portion of the demand which they might otherwise expect from foreign nations for their manufactures? and to what degree will they consent to suffer this loss 2 Certainly not to the extent of risking any permanent decrease in the whole amount of the commercial and manufacturing population; because such a result would at once destroy the demand for agricultural produce, which it is the object of the whole argument to find the means of supplying. But in estimating its probable extent it may be useful to recollect, that although this risk is apparently increased by every step made in the progress of society; because as the land yet remaining uncultivated decreases in quality, the premium for cultivating it must be increased pari passu; yet we may also conclude that the improved machinery, the perfect state of public credit, the freedom and security of property, which are all necessary to the existence of a highly civilized and manufacturing state of society, usually confer advantages on the products of their industry even in foreign markets, which are frequently found in practice more than to counterbalance even a considerable difference in the price of labour. They also produce effects on the home market, tending to something like an uniform price in corn of domestic growth, by the accommodation afforded to the cultivators in times of difficulty. It should seem, therefore, that by making an immediate sacrifice for the encouragement of domestic agriculture, a clear advantage is gained over the opposite system. For a great and opulent class of domestic consumers are at all events preserved, affording a permanent and certain demand for manufactures; while the
foreign demand, which at the best is comparatively precarious, appears not to be subjected to any very material additional risk.
If indeed, in a country which nearly or just feeds its population from the produce of it's own soil, it were possible to establish a monopoly of food, so as to prevent its sinking in price in proportion to its plenty; and thus to deprive the consumer of his fair advantage in a plentiful crop, in return for his sacrifice in favour of the grower in the event of a deficient one; much might be said against the necessity of such sacrifice being ever made: for the extraordinary profit of average or abundant years might, and probably would, more than compensate the deficiencies of scanty crops. But the very idea of a monopoly of agricultural produce appears to me to be a prejudice. It is perfectly fair and just, and the well understood interest of the public, that every proprietor should be permitted to make as much of his property, as a fair contemplation of the demand and supply will enable him to make. If he attempt to make more, not the public, but the speculator himself must suffer. This is peculiarly true of agricultural produce. That man must be very superficially acquainted with the first principles by which markets are regulated, if he does not know that a corn-grower, holding back his produce to enhance its price when no actual scarcity exists, must ultimately be obliged to bring it to market at a reduced price; and that holding it back when there is a real scarcity is the greatest possible public benefit; because it tends to enforce occonomy in the use of grain, and to make the general stock last the longer. The result is, that the public instead of paying first a high price, and afterwards a famine price, without the means of a constant supply, is furnished with a regular though scanty provision at a scarcity price. So closely on this great question of practical policy are public and individual interests united. I have heard it said, in answer to arguments in favour of affording protection to the cultivator of inferior lands against a ruinous competition from the agricultural countries in the home market, that cheapness of corn generating cheapness of labour, and thus encouraging the rapid increase of a manufacturing population, their demand affords a higher encouragement to cultivation than can be accomplished by any protecting duties. Now I should be the last man to deny that, after a country has acquired prosperity in commerce and manufactures, the demand from its manufacturing and trading population can alone produce a further supply of food; for some of the fundamental arguments of this treatise depend upon that obvious truth. But the question here to be determined is not whether such a demand is not so created somewhere, and generally speaking; but whether it shall be made to operate on the agriculture of foreign countries, or on that of the manufacturing country itself: and the object of the proposed protection is to place the inferior land of the latter on a level with the superior land of the former: to afford it, in short, artificially that preference which, catteris paribus, will naturally be given to a resource that can be had at home, rather than to a more precarious supply from abroad at an equal expense. The truism therefore, that a manufacturing population affords the best encouragement to agriculture in certain states of society, has evidently nothing to do with the question before us, unless the means exist by which that encouragement may be made to operate upon the domestic soil. These means can only be afforded, in a state of society where poorer soils only remain to be cultivated, by protecting them against the competition of the richer soils of the purely agricultural countries. Still, however, the manufacturing population must exist and increase, or the demand would not be created for any augmentation at all, either of domestic or of foreign produce. So that the encouragement to be given to agriculture is a question of degree, and it must obviously not be carried to an extent that would injure commerce or manufactures, either by materially affecting their export to foreign countries, by raising the price of labour to an exorbitant height, or by diminishing the sale of goods in the domestic market. To ascertain whether due encouragement can be afforded, without some of these pernicious consequences, in any given country, it is expedient in the first place to inquire into the necessary expenses that must be defrayed by the cultivator, before he begins to calculate upon those profits which are to determine the propriety of his continuing or relinquishing the objects of his pursuit; for these expenses must evidently be exceeded by the price paid for the produce by the general consumer, in order to give the cultivator the means of continuing his industry. They are, as before remarked,—1st, Rent— 2dly, Tenant's expenses—and 3dly, Taxes. Of each of these then in their order.
THERE are few subjects on which more extraordinary motions seem to have prevailed among political economists than on the nature of rent, and consequently there are few, on which a greater mass of prejudice in general is found to exist. Dr. Adam Smith says * that “the rent of land, considered as the price paid for the use of land, is naturally a monopoly price. It is not at all proportioned to what the landlord may have laid out upon the improvement of the land, or to what he can afford to take” (that is, I presume, without loss of capital or fair interest upon it) “but to what the farmer can afford to give.” Now, with great submission, I venture to deny the whole of this statement;-and, first, that the rent of land is a monopoly price, or, as Mr. Malthus explains it, “the excess of price above the cost of production.” I suppose, of course, that the price of the raw material is to be included in the costs of production, and is to be expected to return a fair profit, otherwise no man would enter into the speculation. Now this price, in the case of land, is the capital and labour employed to purchase or reclaim it; and including a fair profit upon them, there is certainly no monopoly price fixed upon the rent of land, which is as fairly open as any other
* Book i. c. xi, # Inquiry into the Nature and Progress of Rent, 1815, p. 2.