« НазадПродовжити »
$ 6. The next proposition is, that wealth tends to counteract these laws-preventing the necessity for resorting to less productive soils, by producing improvements in cultivation. This proposition was interpolated into the system, because of the absolute necessity for leaving a place of escape for some of the thousand exceptions to his laws, presenting themselves to the consideration of its author; and its presence there is a direct admission of the unsoundness of his doctrine.
According to Mr. Ricardo, wealth should grow most rapidly when, and where, land is most abundant - when, and where, the best soils alone are cultivated. That his followers think so, is obvious from the fact that they, one and all, attribute the rapid growth of wealth in the United States, to the abundance of land. Improvements of cultivation should, then, be most rapid where land is most abundant; but such bas not been the case in any country of the world. So far the reverse has it been, that wealth has grown most slowly in those in which rich and unoccupied soils were most abounding; and for the reason, that there — the population being most dispersed - the power of association has least existed. It grows, now, most rapidly in those in which resort is being had to the soils rejected in the early periods—that being the precise manner in which improvements in the mode of cultivation are most exhibited.* The plough enables the farmer to go deep into the lower soil, while the spade facilitates his access to the marl—the railroad enabling him to change its place. The same road, too, brings the coal to the lime—thus facilitating the compounding of a new soil, which, according to Mr. Ricardo, should be worse than the old one, and yet, is better. With every step in the extension of cultivation, labor should become less productive -- the growth of wealth diminishing in its rapidity, with corresponding diminution in the power of effecting further improvements; and yet, there is, with each, an increase in the power of man to command the services of nature.
* See ante, vol. i. p. 114,
The new soils are better than the old ones, or they are worse. If the first, then is Mr. Ricardo's theory wholly without foundation. If the second, then must the extension of cultivation be attended with diminished power of accumulation — producing a necessity for applying labor with less and less advantage, and leading inevitably to pauperism, slavery, and crime. The law of nature in relation to the production of food beiug no more to be arrested than can those in relation to the gravitation of matter, the system-maker who finds himself forced to rely upon such suspensions for the establishment of his theory, thereby furnishes conclusive evidence of his own deficiency in knowledge. All her laws are simple and universally true. That of Mr. Ricardo is complex and universally false. Had it been otherwise, there would have been no necessity for providing escape-valves for troublesome facts.
$ 7. The last proposition is, that every such improvement tends to retard the increase of rent- every obstacle to improvement tending, on the contrary, to accelerate it. The interests of the landlord and the laborer are, therefore, always in opposition to each other.
If men did commence with the cultivation of the most fertile soils, and if, with the progress of population, there did arise & necessity for resorting to those of less fertility, yielding a constantly decreasing return to labor, such must inevitably be the case. The slower the increase in the supply of food, the more rapid must be the increase in the power of the owner of land in cultivation, and the greater the tendency to poverty and disease among those required to live by labor. * The landlord must take
* “ How slow soever the increase of population, provided that of capital be still slower [believed by Mr. Mill to be the case), wages will be reduced 80 low that a portion of the population will regularly die from the consequences of want."- Mill.
a constantly increasing proportion — the laborer becoming his slave, thankful to be allowed to live and work, although compelled to live on acorn-bread. Mr. Ricardo having, here, carried out his doctrine to its legitimate results, those results must, at some future day, be reached — his theory being correct.
It sig. nifies nothing, to say that the downward progress may be arrested. Man must be always tending in that direction, there to arrive at last, were it a thousand years bence.* The experience of Europe for thousands of years, and that of America for the last three centuries, would lead us to opposite conclusions; yet Mr. Ricardo insists that such is the law. Being so, when is it to begin to become operative? We know of no other of nature's laws thus hung up, in terrorem, over man ; none, the action of which is thus suspended, to fall, at some future time, with a force increased, immeasurably, during the period of suspension. Population growing daily, and with great rapidity, the necessity for resorting to less productive soils must be increasing with every hour; yet is man permitted to go on to increase his species, in blind and blissful ignorance of the fact, that his descendants are to suffer all the pangs of hunger, while land-owners are to revel in abundance such as has never yet been known — the one class becoming masters, and the other slaves.
Admitting, now, that cultivation commences always on the poorer soils—thence proceeding to the swamps and river-bottoms
- the reverse of this would prove to be the case. The qnantity of rent would then increase with every improvement, and decline with every obstacle to such improvement - the interests of landlord and laborer being, thus, in perfect harmony with each other. Improvements in cultivation follow, necessarily, from the growth of wealth. The more spades and ploughs, and the better their quality, the larger is the return to human effort, and the greater the rent. The more horses and cattle, the larger is the return to human effort, and the greater the rent. The more steamengines, the easier is the work of drainage, the larger is the return to labor, and the greater the rent. The more mills, the easier is the conversion of the grain into flour, the larger is the
. From the operation of fixed and permanent causes, the increasing sterility of the soil is sure, in the long run, to overmatch the improvements that occur in machinery and agriculture, prices experiencing a corresponde ing rise, and profits a corresponding fall.” — McCULLOCH.
return to labor, and the greater the rent. The more factories, the less is the labor required for obtaining clothing, the greater is the proportion that may be given to improving the land by making drains, roads, bridges, and school-houses, the larger is the return to labor, and the greater the rent. The interests of the landlord would seem, therefore, to be directly promoted by every measure tending to augment the wealth of the community, and to aid in the improvement of cultivation.
How stands it with the laborer ? Seeing that, with every increase in the number and quality of spades and ploughs, en. gines and roads, mills and factories, his labor becomes more productive — that, with every increase in the ratio which spades and ploughs, engines and mills, bear to the men by whom they are to be employed, he is enabled to retain an increased proportion of the larger product — and that, whereas, when the land in cultivation yielded a net product of only six bushels to the acre, the owner took two-thirds, leaving him but two, now, when it yields forty bushels, he takes but a fifth, leaving him thirty-two - he feels that his interests are, like those of the rent receiver, directly advanced by every measure tending to the augmentation of wealth, and to the promotion of improvement in the modes of cultivation.
§ 8. The barmony of all the permanent interests of man being perfect, it would seem to be required, only, that men should be persuaded of its existence - appreciating fully the advantages of co-operation over antagonism, and seeing that, like mercy
" It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven,
Upon the place beneath "blessing both “him that gives, and him that takes,” to induce all honest and enlightened men to an effort for enabling their fellowmen, everywhere, to indulge their natural desire for association and combination — the husbandman and the artisan taking their places by each other's side. The necessity for this, and the advantages to be derived from it by all — Gaul and Briton Russian and American Turk and Christian — being more fully understood, peace and commerce would take the place of trading jealousy and universal discord. The harmony of classes thus begetting a harmony of nations, the love of peace would diffuse itself throughout the earth. All would then become satisfied that, in the laws which govern the relations of man with his fellow-man, there reign the same beautiful simplicity and harmony everywhere else so abundantly evident; all, by degrees, would learn, that their own interests would be best promoted by respecting, in others, those rights of person and property they desired to have respected in themselves; and all become, at length, convinced that the whole of social science is embraced in the brief words of the great founder of Christianity: “Do unto others as ye would that others should do unto you."
Mr. Ricardo's system is one of discords. Its parts not agreeing with each other, its whole tends to the promotion of war among both classes and nations. Professing an admiration for freedom of commerce, he teaches that a monopoly of the land is in accordance with a great law of nature. Believing in freedom of action, he teaches that if men and women will unite in marriage — thus doing that which most stimulates to exertion, and most tends to improve both heart and mind — starvation is to be their probable reward. Thoroughly admiring sound morality, he enforces the advantages of celibacy - thus affording countenance to the many restrictions by which marriage is prevented, and profligacy promoted. Professing a desire for free trade in corn, he teaches the landlord, that his interests will be injuriously affected by it. Anxious to improve the condition of the people, he assures the land-owner, that all wealth appropriated to improvement in the modes of cultivation, must diminish the progress of rent. Desiring that the rights of property may be respected, he instructs the laborer, that the interests of the land owner are to be promoted by every measure tending to produce a scarcity of food - rent being paid because of an exercise of power on the part of the few, who have appropriated to themselves, that which a beneficent Deity intended for the common good of all. His book is the truc manual of the demagogue seeking power by means of agrarianism, war, and plunder. Its lessons being inconsistent with those afforded by the study of all well-observed facts, and inconsistent even with themselves, the sooner they shall come to be discarded the better will it be, for the interests of landlord and tenant, manufacturer and mechanic, and mankind at large.