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of any article or product whatsoever that the possessor may desire. "We are wont to consider money as the universal medium of exchange, though it is only a contrivance for facilitating it; this is a consequence of the popular delusion which confounds money with wealth. Any portion of wealth, any article of value, is, like Fortunatus's wishing-cap, a means of obtaining, to the extent of its value, whatever other article we may desire; — the contrivance of money rendering the process of obtaining it by exchange a very simple one. This Protean character of wealth, this capability of satisfying whatever want or whim the heart of man can conceive, is, like the ductility of gold, its most peculiar and attractive quality.
And here we perceive the explanation of the fact which has so often been a topic of complaint, that the pecuniary wages or earnings of scientific and literary men are, with a few rare exceptions, very inconsiderable. "Had the taste for study," as McCulloch remarks, "depended only on the pecuniary emoluments which it brings along with it, it may well be doubted whether it would ever have found a single votary; and we should have been deprived, not only of very many of our most valuable and important discoveries in the arts, as well as in philosophy and legislation, but of much that refines and exalts the character, and supplies the best species of amusement." The inadequacy of the pecuniary compensation of these persons " arises from a variety of causes; but principally, perhaps, from the indestructibility, if we may so term it, and rapid circulation, of their works and inventions. The cloth of the manufacturer and the corn of the agriculturist are speedily consumed, and there is therefore a continual demand for fresh supplies of the same articles. Such, however, is not the case with new inventions, new theories, or new literary works. They may be universally made use of, but they cannot be consumed. The moment that the invention of logarithms, the mode of spinning by rollers, and the discovery of the cow-pox had been published, they were rendered imperishable, and every one was in a condition to profit by them. It was no longer necessary to resort to their authors. The results of their researches had become public property, had conferred new powers on every individual, and might be applied by any one." As they can no longer be appropriated, the difficulty of attainment, which is a necessary element of artificial wealth, is entirely removed; they therefore cease to possess exchangeable value, and become a part of what we have called the natural wealth of mankind.
Observe, moreover, that it is in the highest departments of literature and science that labor is most imperfectly remunerated; in those of a lower rank, in adapting to popular comprehension and purposes of practical utility the ideas and discoveries of others, tact and industry may often reap a considerable pecuniary reward. Hence, invention is usually more profitable than discovery; a new machine may create a fortune for its inventor, whilst the discoverer of those abstract principles of science, or general laws of nature, which are applied in the mechanical improvement, or are presupposed in the construction of it, can obtain no compensation but the fame of his labors and the gratitude of posterity. No one thinks of rewarding the heirs of Franklin and GErsted for those discoveries in electricity and electro-magnetism to which we are primarily indebted for the lightning-rod, the electrotype, and the magnetic telegraph. Ideas cannot be patented, or exclusively appropriated; but machines may be. So also in authorship, as McCulloch observes, "though a work should have the greatest influence over the legislation of the country or the state of the arts, it may redound but little to the advantage of the author. It is not so much on the depth, originality, and importance of its views, as on the circumstance of its being agreeable to the public taste, that the success, and consequently the productiveness of a book to its author, must depend. Many a middling novel has produced more money than the ;Principia' or the 'Wealth of Nations'; and in this respect, the 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' has been far inferior to the c Arabian Nights.'"
The conversion of artificial into natural wealth, an apparent loss in exchangeable value being a real gain to the whole community, may be further illustrated by an example borrowed from Mr. Senior. "If the climate of England could be suddenly changed to that of Bogota, and the warmth which we extract imperfectly and expensively from fuel were supplied by the sun, fuel would cease to be useful, except as one of the productive instruments employed by art; [that is, in metallurgy, driving steam-engines, &c] We should want no more grates or chimney-pieces in our sitting-rooms. "What had previously been a considerable amount of property in the fixtures of houses, in stock in trade, and materials, would become valueless. Coals would sink in price; the most expensive mines would be abandoned; those ^vhich were retained would afford smaller rents. The proprietors and tradesmen specially affected by the change would lose, not only in wealth, but in the means of enjoyment. The owner of a mine whose rent fell from £ 20,000 a year to £ 10,000 would not be compensated by being saved the expense of fuel in every room except his kitchen. On the other hand, persons without fire-places or coal-cellars of their own would lose nothing, and the rest of the world would lose only in the value of their grates, chimneypieces, and stocks of coal; and all would gain in enjoyment by being able to devote to other purposes the money which they previously paid for artificial warmth. Still, for a time, there would be less [artificial] wealth; [and there would be permanently a great gain in natural wealth.] The capital and the labor previously devoted to warming our apartments, would be diverted to the production of new commodities. The cheapness of coal would increase the supply of manufactured articles, and there would then be as .much wealth as there was before the change; probably more, and certainly much more enjoyment."
As to the nature of the labor which ends in the production of wealth, it is justly remarked by McCulloch, that "all the operations of nature and art are reducible to, and really consist of, transmutations, that is, of changes of form and of place. By production, in this science, is not meant the production of matter, that being the exclusive attribute of Omnipotence, but the production of utility, and consequently of value, by appropriating and modifying matter already in existence, so as to fit it to satisfy our wants, and contribute to our enjoyments. The labor which is thus employed is the only source of wealth. Nature spontaneously furnishes the matter of which all commodities are made; but until labor has been applied to appropriate that matter, or to adapt it to our use, it is wholly destitute of value, and is not, nor ever has been, considered as forming wealth. Place us on the banks of a river, or in an orchard, and we shall infallibly perish of thirst or hunger, if we do not, by an effort of industry, raise the water to our lips, or pluck the fruit from its parent tree. It is seldom, however, that the mere appropriation of matter is sufficient. In the vast majority of cases, labor is required not only to appropriate it, but also to convey it from place to place, and to give it that peculiar shape without which it may be totally useless, and incapable of ministering either to our necessities or our comforts. The coal used as fuel is buried deep in the bowels of the earth, and is absolutely worthless until the miner has extracted it from the mine, and brought it into a situation where it may be made use of. The stones and mortar used in building houses, and the rugged and shapeless materials that have been fashioned into the various articles of convenience and ornament with which they are furnished, were, in their original state, destitute alike of value and utility. And of the innumerable variety of animal, vegetable, and mineral products, which form the materials of food and clothes, none was originally serviceable, while many were extremely noxious to man. It is his labor which has given them utility, that has subdued their bad qualities, and made them satisfy his wants and minister to his comforts and enjoyments."
"We distinguish, then, three kinds of industry: —
1. The labor of collecting and appropriating natural products. This includes the work not only of the agriculturist, or tiller of the ground, but of the miner, the huntsman, the fisherman, and all others who bring together for the use of man the various products of sea and land which satisfy his wants.
2. The tasks of the manufacturer, the mechanic, and the artisan, who shape, combine, and fabricate raw materials into forms fit for use.
3. The business of the merchant, who brings together the products of various climes, distributes them among the people in proportion to their means and wants, and equalizes the supplies and prices of commodities by storing them up for future use, or carrying them where they are most needed.
Again, the commodities which constitute wealth may be divided into two classes:—-1. The articles which are designed for immediate consumption, and which directly satisfy the wants of man, such as food and clothing, that are fit to be eaten and worn, the houses that shelter us, and the ornaments and luxuries that gratify our tastes. 2. The tools, implements, and raw materials, by means of which, or out of which, the former articles are made, but which, in their present shape, are not fitted for our immediate gratification or support. These last possess only a kind of secondary or derivative value, as they are prized, not for their own sake, but for what can be made out of them, or obtained by their aid.
THE MEASURE OF VALUE, AND THE DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH AMONG THE COOPERATING PRODUCERS OF IT.
Thus far it has been shown, that labor is not only necessary in fact for the creation of value, but enters into the very idea of it, so that, when the necessity for labor departs, the reality and even the conception of value vanish along with it. I now say that the labor required is a measure of the value produced. But here the word labor must be taken in its most comprehensive signification. I mean by it any human exertion whatever', corporeal or intellectual^ which directly or indirectly overcomes or diminishes that difficulty of attainment which we have seen to be an essential element of wealth. The only measure of such labor is its comparative efficiency. Thus, the labor of one practised and skilful artisan is equal to that of at least three raw hands, or ordinary laborers, as they are termed; in some cases, it may equal that of many more. The labor, chiefly intellectual) of general superintendence and skilful direction of the operatives employed in a manufactory, may be measured by the ordinary labor which it saves, — that is, by the number of additional workmen, or the additional time, that would be needed if such superintendence were wanting; or it may be measured by the scarcity of the peculiar skill and tact which are required for such superintendence, — that is, by the difficulty of finding a competent superintendent.