Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

bour by which society accomplishes its! productive operations, or in other words, as part of what the produce costs to society, so too may the labour employed in keeping up productive powers; in preventing them from being destroyed or weakened by accident or disease. The labour of a physician or surgeon, when made use of by persons engaged in industry, must be regarded in the economy of society as a sacrifice incurred, to preserve from perishing by death or infirmity that portion ot the j productive resources of society which is fixed in the lives and bodily or mental powers of its productive members. To the individuals, indeed, this forms but a part, sometimes an imperceptible part, of the motives that induce them to sub-' mit to medical treatment: it is not principally from economical motives ( that persons have a limb amputated, or endeavour to be cured of a fever, though when they do so, there is generally sufficient inducement for it even on that score alone. This is, therefore, one of the cases of labour and outlay which, though conducive to production, yet not being incurred for that end, or for the sake of the returns arising from it, are out of the sphere of most of the general propositions which political economy has occasion to assert respecting productive labour: though, when society and not the individuals are considered, this labour and outlay must be regarded as part of the advance by which society effects its productive operations, and for which it is indemnified by the produce.

§ 8. Another kind of labour, usually classed as mental, but conducing to the ultimate product as directly, though not so immediately, as manual labour itself, is the labour of the inventors of industrial processes. I say, usually classed as mental, because in reality it is not exclusively so. All human exertion is compounded of some mental and some bodily elements. The stupidest hodman, who repeats from day to day the mechanical act of climbing a ladder, performs a function partly intellectual; so much so, indeed, that the most intelligent dog or elephant could not,

probably, be taught to do it. The dullest human being, instructed beforehand, is capable of turning a mill; but a horse cannot turn it without somebody to drive and watch him. On the other hand, there is some bodily ingredient in the labour most purely mental, when it generates any external result. Newton could not have produced the Principia without the bodily exertion either of penmanship or of dictation; and he must have drawn many diagrams, and written out many calculations and demonstrations, while he was preparing it in his mind. Inventors, besides the labour of their brains, generally go through much labour with their hands, in the models which they construct and the experiments they have to make before their idea can realize itself successfully in act. Whether mental, however, or bodily, their labour is a part of that by which the production is brought about. The labour of Watt in contriving the steam-engine was as essential a part of production as that of the mechanics who build or the engineers who work the instrument; and was undergone, no less than theirs, in the prospect of a remuneration from the produce. The labour of invention is often estimated and paid on the very same plan as that of execution. Many manufacturers of ornamental goods have inventors in their employment, who receive wages or salaries for designing patterns, exactly as others do for copying them. All this is strictly part of the labour of production; as the labour of the author of a book is equally a part of its production with that of the printer and binder.

In a national, or universal point of view, the labour of the savant, or speculative thinker, is as much a part of production in the very narrowest sense, as that of the inventor of a practical art; many such inventions having been the direct consequences of theoretic discoveries, and every extension of knowledge of the powers of nature being fruitful of applications to the purposes of outward Ufe. The electromagnetic telegraph was the wonderful and most unexpected consequence of the experiments of CErsted and the mathematical investigations of Ampere: and the modern art of navigation is an nnforeseen emanation from the purely speculative and apparently merely curious inquiry, by the mathematicians of Alexandria, into the properties of three curves formed by the intersection of a plane surface and a cone. No limit can be set to the importance, even in a purely productive and material point of view, of mere thought. Inasmuch, however, as these material fruits, though the result, are seldom the direct purpose of the pursuits of savants, nor is their remuneration in general derived from the increased production which may be caused incidentally, and mostly after a long interval, by their discoveries; this ultimate influence does not, for most of the purposes of political economy, require to be taken into consideration; and speculative thinkers are generally classed as the producers only of the books, or other useable or saleable articles, which directly emanate from them. But when (as in political economy one should always be prepared to do) we shift our point of view, and consider not individual acts, and the motives by which they are determined, but national and universal results, intellectual speculation must be looked upon as a most influential part of the productive labour of society, and the portion of its resources employed in carrying on and in remunerating such labour, as a highly productive part of its expenditure.

§ 9. In the foregoing survey of the modes of employing labour in furtherance of production, I have made little use of the popular distinction of industry into agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial. For, in truth, this division fulfils very badly the purposes of a classification. Many great branches •f productive industry find no place in it, or not without much straining; for example (not to speak of hunters or fishers) the miner, the road-maker, and the sailor. The limit, too, between agricultural and manufacturing industry cannot be precisely drawn. The miller, for instance, and the baker—

are they to be reckoned among agriculturists, or among manufacturers? Their occupation is in its nature manufacturing ; the food has finally parted company with the soil before it is handed over to them: this, however, might be said with equal truth of the thresher, the winnower, the makers of butter and cheese; operations always counted as agricultural, probably because it is the custom for them to be performed by persons resident on the farm, and under the same superintendence as tillage. For many purposes, all these persons, the miller and baker inclusive, must be placed in the same class with ploughmen and reapers. They are all concerned in producing food, and depend for their remuneration on the food produced; when the one class abounds and flourishes, the others do so too; they form collectively the "agricultural interest;" they render but one service to the community by their united labours, and are paid tiom one common source. Even the tillers of the soil, again, when the produce is not food, but the materials of what are commonly termed manufactures, belong in many respects to the same division in the economy of society as manufacturers. The cotton-planter of Carolina, and the wool-grower of Australia, have more interests in common with the spinner and weaver than with the corn-grower. But, on the other hand, the industry which operates immediately upon the soil has, as we shall see hereafter, some properties on which many important consequences depend, and which distinguish it from all the subsequent stages of production, whether carried on by the same person or not; from the industry of the thresher and winnower, as much as from that of the cotton-spinner. When I speak, therefore, of agricultural labour, I shall generally mean this, and this exclusively, unless the contrary is either stated or implied in the context. The term manufacturing is too vague to be of much use when precision is required, and when I employ it, I wish to be understood as intending to speak popularly rather than scientifically.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER IIL

OF UNPRODUCTIVE LABOUK.

§ 1. Labour is indispensable to production, but has not always production for its effect. There is much labour, and of a high order of usefulness, of which production is not the object. Labour has accordingly been distinguished into Productive and Unproductive. There has been not a little controversy among political economists on the question, what kinds of labour should be reputed to be unproductive; and they have not always perceived, that there was in reality no matter of fact in dispute between them.

Many writers have been unwilling to class any labour as productive, unless its result is palpable in some material object, capable of being transferred from one peraon to another. There are others (among whom are Mr. M'Culloch and M. Say) who looking upon the word unproductive as a term of disparagement, remonstrate against imposing it upon any labour which is regarded as useful—which produces a benefit or a pleasure worth the cost. The labour of officers of government, of the army and navy, of physicians, lawyers, teachers, musicians, dancers, actors, domestic servants, &c. when they really accomplish what they are paid for, and are not more numerous than is required for its performance, ought not, say these writers, to be "stigmatized" as unproductive, an expression which they appear to regard as synonymous with wasteful or worthless. But this seems to be a misunderstanding of the matter in dispute. Production not being the sole end of human existence, the term unproductive does not necessarily imply any stigma; nor was ever intended to do so in the present case. The question is one of mere language and classification. Differences of language, however, are by no means unimportant, even when not grounded on differences of opinion; for though either of two expressions may

be consistent with the whole truth, they generally tend to fix attention upon different parts of it. We must therefore enter a little into the consideration of the various meanings which may attach to the words productive and unproductive when applied to labour.

In the first place, even in what is called the production of material objects, it must be remembered that what is produced is hot the matter composing them. All the labour of all the human beings in the world could not produce one particle of matter. To weave broadcloth is but to re-arrange, in a peculiar manner, the particles of wool; to grow corn is only to put a portion of matter called a seed, into a situation where it can draw together particles of matter from the earth and air, to form the new combination called a plant. Though we cannot create matter, we can cause it to assume properties, by which, from having been useless to us, it becomes useful. What wo produce, or desire to produce, is always, as M. Say rightly terms it, an utility. Labour is not creative of objects, but of utilities. Neither, again, do we consume and destroy the objects themselves; the matter of which they were composed remains, more or less altered inform: what has really been consumed is only the qualities by which they were fitted for the purpose they have been applied to. It is, therefore, pertinently asked by M. Say and others—since, when we are said to produce objects, we only produce utility, why should not all labour which produces utility be accounted productive? Why refuse that title to the surgeon who sets a limb, the judge or legislator who confers security, and give it to the lapidary who cuts and polishes a diamond? Why deny it to the teacher from whom I learn an art by which I can gain my bread, and accord it to the confectioner

who 1 jakes bonbons for the momentary pleasure of a sense of taste?

It is quite true that all these kinds of labour are productive of utility; and the question which now occupies us could not have been a question at all, if the production of utility were enough to satisfy the notion which mankind have usually formed of productive labour. Production, and productive, are of course elliptical expressions, involving the idea of a something produced; but this something, in common apprehension, I conceive to be, not utility, but Wealth. Productive labour means labour productive of wealth. We are recalled, therefore, to the question touched upon in our first chapter, what Wealth is, and whether only material products, or all useful products, are to be included in it.

§ 2. Now the utilities produced by labour are of three kinds. They are,

First, utilities fixed and embodied in outward objects; by labour employed in investing external material things with properties which render them serviceable to human beings. This is the common case, and requires no illustration.

Secondly, utilities fixed and embodied in human beings; the labour being in this case employed in conferring on human beings, qualities which render them serviceable to themselves and others. To this class belongs the labour of all concerned in education; not only schoolmasters, tutors, and professors, but governments, so far as they aim successfully at the improvement of the people; moralists, and clergymen, as far as productive of benefit; the labour of physicians, as far as instrumental in preserving life and physical or mental efficiency; of the teachers of bodily exercises, and of the various trades, sciences, and arts, together with the labour of tbe learners in acquiring them; and all labour bestowed by any persons, throughout life, in improving the knowledge or cultivating the bodily or mental faculties of themselves or others.

Thirdly and lastly, utilities not fixed or embodied in any object, but consist

ing in a mere service rendered; a pleasure given, an inconvenience or a pain averted, during a longer or a shorter time, but without leaving a permanent acquisition in the improved qualities of any person or thing; the labour being employed in producing an utility directly, not (as in the two former cases) in fitting some other thing to afford an utility. Such, for example, is the labour of the musical performer, the actor, the public declaimer or reciter, and the showman. Some good may no doubt be produced, and much more might be produced, beyond the moment, upon the feelings and disposition, or general state of enjoyment of the spectators; or instead of good there may be harm; but neither the one nor the other is the effect intended, is the result for which the exhibitor works and the spectator pays; nothing but the immediate pleasure. Such, again, is the labour of the army and navy; they, at the best, prevent a country from being conquered, or from being injured or insulted, which is a service, but in all other respects leave the country neither improved nor deteriorated. Such, too, is the labour of the legislator, the iudge, the officer of justice, and all other agents of government, in their ordinary functions, apart from any influence they may exert on the improvement of the national mind. The service which they render, is to maintain peace and security; these compose the utility which they produce. It may appear to some, that carriers, and merchants or dealers, should be placed in this same class, since their labour does not add any properties to objects: but I reply that it does: it adds the property of being in the place where they are wanted, instead of being in some other place: which is a very useful property, and the utility it confers is embodied in the things themselves, which now actually are in the place" where they are required for use, and in consequence of that increased utility could be sold at an increased price, proportioned to the labour expended in conferring it. This labour, therefore, does not belong to the third class, but to the first.

§ 3. We have now to consider which of these three classes of labour should be accounted productive of wealth, since that is what the term productive, when used by itself, must be understood to import. Utilities of the third class, consisting in pleasures which only exist while being enjoyed, and services which only exist while being performed, cannot be spoken of as wealth, except by an acknowledged metaphor. It is essential to the idea of wealth to be susceptible of accumulation: things which cannot, after being produced, be kept for some time beibre being used, are never, I think, regarded as wealth, since however much of them may be produced and enjoyed, the person benefited by them is no richer, is nowise improved in circumstances. But there is not so distinct and positive a violation of usage in considering as wealth any product which is both useful and susceptible of accumulation. The skill, and the energy and perseverance, of the artisans of a country, are reckoned part of its wealth, no less than their tools and machinery.* According to this definition, we should regard all labour as productive which is employed

* Some authorities look upon it as an essential element in the idea of wealth, that it should he capable not solely of being accumulated, but of being transferred; and inasmuch as the valuable qualities, and even the productive capacities, of a human being cannot be detached from him and passed to some one else, they deny to these the appellation of wealth, and to the labour expended in acquiring them the name of productive labour. It seems to me, however, that the skill of an artisan (for instance) being both a desirable possession and one of a certain durability (not to say productive even of material wealth),there is no better reason for refusing.to it the title of wealth because it is attached to a man, than to a coalpit or a manufactory because they are attached to a place. Besides, if the skill itself cannot be parted with to a purchaser, the use of it may; if it cannot be sold it can be hired; and it may be, and is, sold outright in all countries whose laws permit that the man himself should be sold along with it. Its defect of transferability does not result from a natural, but from a legal and moral obstacle.

The human being himself (as formerly observed) I do not class as wealth. He is the purpose for which wealth exists. But his acquired capacities, which exist only as means, and have been called into existence by labour, fall rightly, as it seems to me, within that designation.

in creating permanent utilities, whe'ther embodied in human beings, or in any other animate or inanimate objects. This nomenclature I have, in a former publication^ recommended as the most conducive to the ends of classification; and I am still of that opinion.

But in applying the term wealth to the industrial capacities of human beings, there seems always, in popular apprehension, to be a tacit reference to material products. The skill of an artisan is accounted wealth, only as being the means of acquiring wealth in a material sense; and any qualities not tending visibly to that object are scarcely so regarded at all. A country would hardly be said to be richer, except by a metaphor, however precious a possession it might have in the genius, the virtues, or the accomplishments of its inhabitants; unless indeed these were looked upon as marketable articles, by which it could attract the material wealth of other countries, as the Greeks of old, and several modern nations have done. While, therefore, I should prefer, were I constructing a new technical language, to make the distinction turn upon the permanence rather than upon the materiality of the product, yet when employing terms which common usage has taken complete possession of, it seems advisable so to employ them as to do the least possible violence to usage; since any improvement in terminology obtained by straining the received meaning of a popular phrase, is generally purchased beyond its value, by the obscurity arising from the conflict between new and old associations.

1 shall, therefore, in this treatise, when speaking of wealth, understand by it only what is called material wealth, and by productive labour only those kinds of exertion which produce utilities embodied in material objects. But in limiting myself to this sense of the word, I mean to avail myself of the full extent of that restricted acceptation, and I shall not refuse the appellation productive, to labour which yields

t Essays on some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy. Essay III. On the words Productive and Unproductive.

« НазадПродовжити »