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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 manu. facturing 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, cæteris 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 ex. orbitant 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 ex. ceeded 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, Rent2dly, Tenant's expenses--and 3dly, Taxes. Of each of these then in their order.
An Inquiry into the Nature of Rent.
THERE are few subjects on which more extraordinary notions 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 im . provement 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,f “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.
species of profits to the competition arising from the de. mand and supply of the article in the market. I venture also to deny that there is, upon the average, any excess whatsoever in the price of the products of lands above “ the cost of production.” It is certainly true, that the sum that can be paid in rent must be determined by that which remains in the hands of the immediate cultivator from the sale of his produce, after all his expenses of production, and his fair profits, are paid. So must the interest of a manufacturer's capital be paid from the sum which remains to the retailer, after deducting his necessary expenses and profit. But surely this interest can never be called “ the excess of price ABOVE the cost of production ;” because it is, in fact, the bare return of a part of that cost. Profit is indeed made up of such excess in price; and when that profit can be increased at the will of the manufacturer, a monopoly may be said to take place, because a price is then superadded beyond that which a fair balance of demand and supply would otherwise indicate. But from the nature of agricultural products, no such increase can take place on the profits accruing from them, and, consequently, on rent which is taken out of them, and the amount of which depends upon them. This will, I think, appear from the following considerations.
It is obvious that, after the first appropriation of land, that is, after the first emergence of society from the savage state, a man cannot become the proprietor of a tract of ground without paying a capital sum for the property, either in clearing, draining, embanking, and other objects necessary to be fulfilled previous to the actual labours of the culti
vator of raw produce; or else to replace the capital, and reward the skill and industry, of the original proprietor who performed those operations, together with his fair profits. This constitutes what may be called the price of land as distinct from the mere cost of cultivation, or expenses of the actual occupier. It is the interest of the sum thus paid as the price of land, which constitutes the rent of land, and which must of course be added to the mere expense of cultivation, before a fair calculation of the whole cost of production, or of raising raw produce for the market, can be made. And I venture to assert that, so far from being a monopoly, competition and other causes have always kept rents so comparatively low, as to afford upon the average of landed property
diminished REAL remuneration to the landlord or receiver of the rent as society has advanced; I mean, that the interest of the sum originally expended in the purchase and clearing of the soil of any given country, will afford to its receivers a continually decreasing proportion of the comforts and enjoyments of life, as those comforts and enjoyments are augmented by the progress of society, and of commercial and manufacturing prosperity; and that the landlord will consequently sink in the scale of society. It is notorious that, in rich and commercial countries, a capitalist, who can make 10, 15, or 20 per cent. in commerce, and 5 per cent, without any cost or labour, in the public funds of his country, often procurés little more than 3 per cent. interest upon capital invested in land with a view to rent. This is at least one very singular feature in the chain of proof, that the rent of land is fixed upon the same principles with a monopoly price of goods. In truth, it appears