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ultimately very injurious to themselves. But, in so far as they do succeed in keeping up the wages of any trade by limiting its numbers, I look upon them as simply intrenching round a particular spot against the inroads of overpopulation, and making their wages depend upon their own rate of increase, instead of depending on that of a more reckless and improvident class than themselves. And I should rejoice if by trade regulations, or even by trades unions, the employments thus specially protected could be multiplied to a much greater extent than experience has shown to be practicable. What at first sight seems the injustice of excluding the more numerous class from sharing the gains of a comparatively few, disappears when we consider that by being admitted they would not be made better off, for more than a short time; the only permanent effect which their admission would produce, would be to lower the others to their own level. If, indeed, the general mass of the people were so improved in their standard of living, as not to press closer against the means of employment than those trades do; if, in other words, there were no greater degree of overcrowding outside the barrier, than within it-there would be no need of a barrier, and if it had any effects at all, they must be bad ones ; but in that case the barrier would fall of itself, since there would no longer be any motive for keeping it up. On similar grounds, if there were no other escape from that fatal immigration of Irish, which has done and is doing so much to degrade the condition of our agricultural, and some classes of our town population, I should see no injustice, and the greatest possible expediency in checking that destructive inroad by prohibitive laws. But there is a better mode of putting an end to this mischief, namely, by improving the condition of the Irish themselves; and England owes an atonement to Ireland for past injuries, which she ought to suffer almost any inconvenience rather than
fail to make good, by using her power in as determined a manner for the elevation of that unfortunate people, as she used it through so many dreary centuries for their abasement and oppression.
87. To conclude this subject, I must repeat an observation already made, that there are kinds of labor of which the wages are fixed by custom and not by competition. Such are the fees or charges of professional persons ; of physicians, surgeons, barristers, and even attorneys. These, as a general rule, do not vary, and although competition operates upon those classes as much as upon any others, it is by dividing the business, not, in general, by diminishing the rate at which it is paid. The cause of this, no doubt, is an opinion prevailing in the community, that such persons are more trustworthy if paid highly in proportion to the work they perform ; insomuch that if a lawyer or a physician offered his services at less than the ordinary rate, instead of gaining more practice, he would probably lose that which he already had. For analogous reasons it is usual to pay greatly beyond the market price of their labor, all persons in whom the employer wishes to place peculiar trust, or from whom he requires something beside their mere services. For example, most persons who can afford it, pay to their domestic servants higher wages than would purchase in the market the labor of persons fully as competent to the work required. They do this, not from mere ostentation, but from reasonable motives ; because they desire that those they employ should serve them cheerfully, and be anxious to remain in their service ; because they do not like to drive a hard bargain with people whom they are in constant intercourse with; and because they dislike to have near their persons, and continually in their sight, people with the appearance and habits which are the usual accompaniments of a mean remuneration. Similar feelings operate in the minds of persons in business, with respect to their clerks and other employees. Liberality, generosity, and the credit of the employer, are motives which, to whatever extent they operate, preclude taking the utmost advantage of competition ; and doubtless such motives might, and even now do, operate on employers of labor in all the great departments of industry; and most desirable is it that they should. But they can never raise the average wages of labor beyond the ratio of population to capital. By giving more to each person employed, they limit the power of giving employment to numbers; and however excellent their moral effect, they do little good economically, unless the pauperism of those who are shut out, leads indirectly to a readjustment by means of an increased restraint on population.
CHAPTER XV. !
$ 1. Having treated of the laborer's share of the produce, we next proceed to the share of the capitalist; the profits of capital or stock; the gains of the person who advances the expenses of production—who, from funds in his possession, pays the wages of the laborers or supports them during the work; who supplies the requisite buildings, materials, and tools or machinery; and to whom, by the usual terms of the contract, the produce belongs, to be disposed of at his pleasure. After indemnifying him for his outlay, there commonly remains a surplus, which is his profit; the net income from his capital; the amount which
he can afford to expend in necessaries or pleasures, or from which by further saving he can add to his wealth.
As the wages of the laborer are the remuneration of labor, so the profits of the capitalist are properly, according to Mr. Senior's well-chosen expression, the remuneration of abstinence. They are what he gains by forbearing to consume his capital for his own uses, and allowing it to be consumed by productive laborers for their uses. For this forbearance he requires a recompense. Very often in personal enjoyment he would be a gainer by squandering his capital, the capital amounting to more than the sum of the profits which it will yield during the years he can expect to live. But, while he retains it undiminished, he has always the power of consuming it if he wishes or needs; he can bestow it upon others at his death ; and in the mean time he derives from it an income, which he can without impoverishment apply to the satisfaction of his own wants or inclinations.
Of the gains, however, which the possession of a capital enables a person to make, a part only is properly an equivalent for the use of the capital itself; namely, as much as another person would be willing to pay for the loan of it. This, which as everybody knows is called interest, is all that a person is enabled to get by merely abstaining from the immediate consumption of his capital, and allowing it to be used for productive purposes by others. The remuneration which is obtained in any country for mere abstinence, is measured by the current rate of interest on the best security ; such security as precludes any appreciable chance of losing the principal. What a person expects to gain, who superintends the employment of his own capital, is always more, and generally much more than this. The rate of profit greatly exceeds the rate of interest. The surplus is partly compensation for risk. By lending his capital on unexceptionable security, he runs little or no risk. But if he embarks in business on his own account, he always exposes his capital to some, and in many cases to very great danger of total or partial loss. For this danger he must be compensated, otherwise he will not incur it. He must likewise be remunerated for the devotion of his time and labor. The control of the operations of industry usually belongs to the person who supplies the whole or the greatest part of the funds by which they are carried on, and who, according to the ordinary arrangement, is either alone interested, or is the person most interested (at least directly) in the result. To exercise this control with efficiency, if the concern is large and complicated, requires great assiduity, and often, no ordinary skill. This assiduity and skill must be remunerated.
The gross profits from capital, the gains returned to those who supply the funds for production, must suffice for these three purposes. They must afford a sufficient reward for abstinence, indemnity for risk, and remuneration for the labor and skill required for superintendence. These dif- i ferent compensations may be either paid to the same, or to different persons. The capital, or some part of it, may be borrowed ; may belong to some one who does not undertake the risks or the trouble of business. In that case, the lender, or owner, is the person who practices the abstinence, and is remunerated for it by the interest paid to him, while the difference between the interest and the gross profit remunerates the exertions and risks of the undertaker.* Sometimes, again, the capital, or a part of it, is supplied by what is called a sleeping partner; who shares the risks of the employment but not the trouble, and who, in consideration of those risks, receives not a mere interest, but a
* It is to be regretted that this word, in this sense, is not familiar to an English ear. French political economists enjoy a great advantage in being able to speak currently of les profits de l'entrepreneur. VOL. 1.