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as the real reward of it, and profits, therefore, will not be so much raised. It is even possible that they might not be raised at all. The labourers may previously have been so well provided for, that the whole of what they now lose may be struck off from their other indulgences, and they may not, either by necessity or choice, undergo any reduction in the quantity or quality of their food. To produce the food for the increased number may be attended with such an increase of expense, that wages, though reduced in quantity, may represent as great a cost, may be the product of as much labour, as before, and the capitalist may not be at all benefited. On this supposition the loss to the labourer is partly absorbed in the additional labour required for producing the last instalment of agricultural produce; and the remainder is gained by the landlord, the only sharer who always benefits by an increase of population.
§ 2. Let us now reverse our hypothesis, and, instead of supposing capital stationary and population advancing, let us suppose capital advancing and population stationary; the facilities .*.*. natural and acquired, being, as before, unaltered. The 'real wages of labour, instead of falling, will now rise; and since the cost of production of the things consumed by the labourer is not diminished, this rise of wages implies an equivalent increase of the cost of labour, and diminution of profits. To state the same deduction in other terms; the labourers not being more numerous, and the productive power of their labour being only the same as before, there is no increase of the produce; the increase of wages, therefore, must be at the charge of the capitalists. It is not impossible that the cost of labour might be increased in even a greater ratio than its -real remuneration. (The improved condition of the labourers may increase the demand for food.) The labourers may have been so ill off before, as not to have food enough ; and may now consume more: or they may choose to expend their increased means partly or wholly in a more costly
quality of food, requiring more labour and more land; wheat, for example, instead of oats or potatoes. (This extension of agriculture implies, as usual, a greater cost of production and a higher price, so that besides the increase of the cost of labour arising from the increase of its reward, there will be a further increase (and an additional fall of profits) from the increased costliness of the commodities of which that reward consists. The same causes will produce a rise of rent. What the capitalists lose, above what the labourers gain, is partly transferred to the landlord, and partly swallowed up in the cost of growing food on worse land or by a less productive process.
§ 3. Having disposed of the two simple cases, an increasing population and stationary capital, and an increasing capital and stationary population, we are prepared to take into consideration the mixed case, in which the two elements of expansion are combined, both population and capital increasing. If either element increases faster than the other, the case is so far assimilated with one or other of the two preceding: we shall suppose them, therefore, to increase with equal rapidity; the test of equality being, that each labourer obtains the same commodities as before, and the same quantity of those commodities. Let us examine what will be the effect, on rent and profits, of this double progreSS.
Population having increased, without any falling off in the labourer's condition, there is of course a demand for more food. The arts of production being supposed stationary, this food must be produced at an increased cost. To compensate for this greater cost of the additional food, the price of agricultural produce must rise. The rise extending over the whole amount of food produced, though the increased expenses only apply to a part, there is a greatly increased extra profit, which, by competition, is transferred to the landlord. Rent will rise, both in quantity of produce and in cost; while wages, being supposed to be the same in quantity, will be greater in cost. The labourer obtaining the same amount of necessaries, money wages have risen; and as the rise is common to all branches of production, the capitalist cannot indemnify himself by changing his employment, and the loss must be borne by profits.
It appears, then, that the tendency of an increase of capital and population is to add to rent at the expense of profits: though rent does not gain all that profits lose, a part being absorbed in increased expenses of production, that is, in hiring or feeding a greater number of labourers to obtain a given amount of agricultural produce. By profits, must of course be understood the rate of profit; for a lower rate of profit on a larger capital may yield a larger gross profit, considered absolutely, though a smaller in proportion to the entire produce.
This tendency of profits to fall, is from time to time counteracted by improvements in production: whether arising from increase of knowledge, or from an increased use of the knowledge already possessed. This is the third of the three elements, the effects of which on the distribution of the produce we undertook to investigate; and the investigation will be facilitated by supposing, as in the case of the other two elements, that it operates, in the first instance, alone.
§ 4. Let us then suppose capital and population stationary, and a sudden improvement made in the arts of production; by the invention of more efficient machines, or less costly processes, or by obtaining access to cheaper commodities through foreign trade.
The improvement may either be in some of the necessaries or indulgences which enter into the habitual consumption of the labouring class; or it may be applicable only to luxuries consumed exclusively by richer people. Very few, however, of the great industrial improvements are altogether of this last description. Agricultural improvements, except such as specially relate to some of the rarer and more peculiar products, act directly upon the principal objects of the labourer's expenditure. The steam-engine, and every other invention which affords a manageable power, are applicable to all things, and of course to those consumed by the labourer. Even the power-loom and the spinning-jenny, though applied to the most delicate fabrics, are available no less for the coarse cottons and woollens worn by the labouring class. All improvements in locomotion cheapen the transport of necessaries as well as of luxuries. <Seldom is a new branch of trade opened, without, either
directly or in some indirect way, causing some of the articles which the mass of the people consume to be either produced or imported at smaller cost. It may safely be affirmed, therefore, that improvements in production generally tend to cheapen the commodities on which the wages of the laboring class are expended.
In so far as the commodities affected by an improvement are those which the labourers generally do not consume, the improvement has no effect in altering the distribution of the produce. Those particular commodities, indeed, are cheapened; being produced at less cost, they fall in value and in price, and all who consume them, whether landlords, capitalists, or skilled and privileged labourers, obtain increased means of enjoyment. The rate of profits, however, is not raised. There is a larger gross profit, reckoned in quantity of commodities. But the capital also, if estimated in those commodities, has risen in value. The profit is the same percentage on the capital that it was before. The capitalists are not benefited as capitalists, but as consumers. The landlords and the privileged classes of labourers, if they are consumers of the same commodities, share the same benefit.
The case is different with improvements which diminish the cost of production of the necessaries of life, or of commodities which enter habitually into the consumption of the great mass of labourers. The play of the different forces being here rather complex, it is necessary to analyze it with Some minuteness,
As formerly observed,” there are two kinds of agricul tural improvements. Some consist in a mere saving of labour, and enable a given quantity of food to be produced at less cost, but not on a smaller surface of land than before. Others enable a given extent of land to yield not only the same produce with less labour, but a greater produce; so that if no greater produce is required, a part of the land already under culture may be dispensed with. As the part rejected will be the least productive portion, the market will thenceforth be regulated by a better description of land than what was previously the worst under cultivation. To place the effect of the improvement in a clear light, we must suppose it to take place suddenly, so as to leave no time during its introduction, for any increase of capital or of population. Its first effect will be a fall of the value and price of agricultural produce. This is a necessary consequence of either kind of improvement, but especially of the last. o An improvement of the first kind, not increasing the produce, does not dispense with any portion of the land; the margin of cultivation (as Dr. Chalmers terms it) remains where it was ; agriculture does not recede, either in extent of cultivated land, or in elaborateness of methods: and the price continues to be regulated by the same land, and by the same capital, as before. But since that land or capital, and all other land or capital which produces food, now yields its produce at smaller cost, the price of food will fall proportionally. If one-tenth of the expense of production has been saved, the price of produce will fall one-tenth. But suppose the improvement to be of the second kind; enabling the land to produce, not only the same corn with one-tenth less labour, but a tenth more corn with the same labour. Here the effect is still more decided. Cultivation can now be contracted, and the market supplied from a smaller quantity of land. Even if this smaller surface of