« PreviousContinue »
amount for the labour employed in the making of shoes. The persons employed in the labour of making coats, will suffer; and the capital employed in it will bring less profits : there will appear a decline of prosperity in that particular trade; but there will appear an increase of prosperity to exactly the same degree in that trade to which the new demand is transferred. No. thing can produce a general decline of prosperity in all trades, but a diminution of the productive powers of the nation, or which in all ordinary cases comes to the same thing, a diminuon of the national capital. ' In war, the nation laid out a part of its annual produce in purchasing such commodities as were consumed by the army and the navy. But when the war ceased, whatever the sum was which the nation would have laid out upon the consumption of the army and the navy, it still had to lay out, and though not upon the army and the navy, yet in some other way. But if the sun which would have been laid out upon the articles of consumption by the army and the navy, was still laid out, there was no diminution whatsoever in the demand for labour, or in the demand for commodities, by reason of the stoppage in the demand for the army and the navy, because in the same degree exactly in which it was by that cause lessened in one quarter, it was increased in an
cock, such as a year; be out in
This is a principle familiar to all those who have studied the science of political economy. But it may, we think, be made Very plain to those who will bestow a little attention, even though they have been very little conversant in these inquiries. It is clear, that the whole of what a nation can lay out in a year, is the whole of what it produces in a year; because, with the exception of its fixed stock, such as buildings, machinery, &c. which last for more than one year, the whole of what it possesses both in revenue and capital, is included in the annual production. The whole of the circulating capital, is annually consumed, and annually reproduced. What a nation therefore lays out in the course of a year, is the whole of what it produces in the course of a year. Whether it is destined for the immediate enjoyment of the owner, or destined to be accumulated, that is, to be employed as capital, it is all equally laid out. If it is to be employed as capital, it is laid out either in the wages of labour, that is, in purchasing the necessaries of the labourer, or in purchasing the raw material, which is to be worked up into the manufactured commodity. It may then be received as a general truth, that what a nation lays out in the course of a. year, is the whole of what it produces in the year. The whole force of self-interest is employed to prevent it from ever being less, and it very rarely can be any thing more.
Whether in peace or in war, then, the nation each year lays out the whole of its annual produce, and creates to itself a market to that amount. When it goes to war, a proportion of that produce is laid out upon the army and the navy; but for that purpose it must be withdrawn from something else upon which it was laid out before. When it returns to peace, that portion of its annual produce which was laid out upon the army and the navy, ceases to be so laid out; but for that very reason it is laid out upon something else. Exactly, therefore, in the degree in which, by stopping the consumption of the army and the navy, the demand for labour is lessened-in one quarter, it is increased in another; provided always the annual produce is not diminished: in other words, provided the capital is not diminished, which is the proximate cause of the annual produce.
It thus appears, to demonstration, that whether we regard the trade which the nation carries on with foreigners, or that which it carries on with itself, the passage from war to peace, could possibly produce no other effects, than a diminution, of demand in one set of the employinents of labour and capital, compensated by an increase of demand to exactly the same amount, in other employments of labour and capital ; but that it cannot, if capital and the annual produce remain the same, have lessened demand upon the whole.
Let us compare now with this conclusion, the state of the fact. The demand for labour is lessened upon the whole. Some other cause, therefore, must be assigned than the passage from war to peace.
A great many persons seem to agree in thinking that the diminution in the quantity of the paper-currency, and the consequent increase of its value, is that other cause, is at least a cause which will account for a considerable proportion of the fatal effects. We shall endeavour to throw some light upon this subject, narrow as is the space to which we must now confine ourselves. It is a subject on which it is highly desirable that the ideas of our countrymen should be a little clear.
The question which we are endeavouring to resolve, what is the cause of the lessened demand for labour?-for that is the evil under which the mass of the people groan-may be considered, in this, as in the foriner case, with respect to the demand arising from foreign, and the demand arising from home-trade.
First; Let us consider the demand arising from foreign trade. There will not, we should imagine, be so much as a pretence, that there can be any diminution in the demand for the produce of our labour, on the part of foreigners, by reason of the change in the state of our currency. As that has made commodities cheaper, if it has produced any effect at all, it
change consequend his two Spure. In like on guineas are as much
must have tended to increase the demand on the part of foreigners,
Secondly; It is equally certain, and if a little attention be bestowed, it may be rendered equally clear, that the change in the state of the currency cannot have diminished the demand for the produce of labour at home. It must be clear to every one, that when that substance which is employed as the medium by which commodities are exchanged, is either increased in quantity or diminished in quantity, no change takes place in the commodities theinselves; they remain the same in quantity, remain without either increase or diminution. All that happens when the substance employed as the medium of exchange is increased in quantity, is, that the same commodity exchanges for a greater quantity of that particular substance, while it exchanges for exactly the same quantity of every thing else. It is of no consequence to a man, if his one guinea is made two guineas, provided his two guineas are worth to him no more than his one guinea was before. In like manner, it is of no consequence to him whatsoever, if his two guineas are reduced to one, provided his one guinea will purchase for him as much as his two guineas did before. His power of giving employment to labour, his efficient demand for labour, is in both cases exactly the same. The change in the state of the currency, therefore, can have done nothing towards that reduction of the demand for labour, under which the present suffering exists.
The change in the state of the currency has produced evil effects; but they have been of a different sort. It has produced a portion of the misery of those who lived by the profits of stock. But as it could have no effect in reducing the demand for labour, it cannot have produced the misery of those who lived by the wages of labour.
The change in the currency has hurt all those who had money to pay. It makes a great difference to a man who has a guinea to pay, if it has become suddenly as valuable as two guineas were before, and as difficult to procure. But it is evident, that in whatever degree this change hurts the man who has money to pay, it benefits the man who has money to receive. Exactly in proportion as the power of the one to employ labour is diminished, the power of the other is increased. The aggregate power of all, therefore, remains exactly the same.
The whole body of farmers were hurt by the change in the currency, because, having engaged to pay as rent a certain sum of money, they were bound to pay the same money, when that money became of greater value. But, in whatever degree the farmers were hurt by paying this greater value, the owners of the land were benefited by receiving it. .
The whole body of the people who pay taxes, were hurt by this change; because being charged at a certain sum of money, the same money was demanded, when the value was increased. But in the same proportion in which those who paid the taxes were in this manner hurt, those who received the taxes were benefited, Exactly in proportion as the power of the one to employ labour was diminished, the power of the other was increased.
We are therefore brought by every course of reasoning to the same grand conclusion, that nothing but a diminution of the capital of the country, and a diminution of the productive powers of the nation, proportioned to the magnitude of the evil, will account for the misery which so heavily presses on the community, and calls in question the wisdom of its counsels.
We are now, therefore, conducted to the question, What is the cause of that diminution of the capital and productive powers of the country, under which the population so fatally suffers? And this is a very short inquiry. There is but one cause, to which ang eye in the world can possibly be turned. That cause is great and powerful, and fully sufficient to account for the effect, however deplorable, and however great. That cause is the war, and the enormous expenditure of the government. c.
Let us only reflect upon the amount of the loans which have been raised year after year for a great number of years. That part of the money.consumed by government, which is raised by loan, is all deducted from capital-either from that which has adready been, or that which is destined to be capital. If the quantity of capital which is consumed within the year by government, is equalled by the quantity of capital which the savings of individuals enable them to add within the year to the national stock, the quantity of the national capital remains the same; and though the nation is prevented by the consumption of government from attaining progression or prosperity, it is prevented by the savings of individuals from going back. The moment, however, when the savings of individuals fail to equal the expenditure of the government, at that moment capital begins to be diminished, the country declines, its annual produce is less, the demand for labour is narrowed, a proportion of the people are thrown out of employment, wages sink below what is necessary to the subsistence of the people, and misery begins to overspread the nation! Is not this an exact description of the picture which Great Britain and Ireland at this moment present?
If we consider the enormous sums which have been deducted from the capital of this country in the loans and the taxes on capital consuined by government, and if we consider, at the same time, to how great an extent individuals were disabled from accumulating, by the amazing load of the annual taxes, it will not
quantity been, or that wom.capitaleithgent, which ears. That
appear credible that the productive powers of individuals can of late years have been able to add as much to the national stock, as the consumption of government withdrew from it. If it did pot, the whole mystery of what we behold is fully unveiled. The capital of the nation has been diminished by the enormous expenditure of the war, and we are now. enduring the bitter consequences !
Is there a possible expedient by which this conclusion can be evaded? We do not see one. And here we would remark on the irrationality of those who would have us believe, that not the war, but the change from war to peace, is the cause of all our miseries! They assure us that the enormous deductions from the capital of the nation, made by the war, had no tendency to produce misery; but that the slight loss which capital sustains in passing from one occupation to another, has, upon that small portion of the national capital alone which could change occupation by the war, produced all the mischief which we behold! A small loss of capital has produced enormous mischief : unparalleled consumption of capital produced no mischief at all! Such is the reasoning by which there are men who attempt to deceive us !
This is the binge upon which turns decisively the solution of the whole difficulty. The only evil which the passage from war to peace can have produced, consists in the loss which capital may have sustained in passing from one occupation to another. As for diminution in the extent of market or demand, we have proved that it is all delusion. Now we challenge them to shew that any considerable portion of the national capital, hás needed to change occupation in consequence of the change from war to peace; we defy them to shew that a loss of capital, has by that means been sustained equal to which was consumed by one half year of the war. To maintain that a trifling consumption of capital produced by one cause, should produce evil effects of prodigious magnitude, when it is maintained that the enormous consumption of capital by another cause, produced no evil effects at all, appears to be false reasoning carried to the highest pitch of daring!
Having found the cause, then, of all this mischief, the remedy is abundantly easy. The enormous consumption of an expensive government is the cause. The remedy is, to diminish that con· sumption. Diminution of capital is the cause of the misery of
nations : increase of capital is the cause of the prosperity of nations. The needless expense of government is the grand cause of the diminution ; the grand cause of preventing the increase of capital. In order to escape from adversity, and to get on as fast as possible towards prosperity,all needless expense of government ought to be prevented; in other words, the services of government ought to be rendered at the smallest possible ex