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A HISTORY OF POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC CON-
TROVERSY IN THE UNITED STATES, WITH
CRITICAL DIGESTS OF LEADING DEBATES
MARION MILLS MILLER, LITT.D. (PRINCETON)
AMERICAN HISTORY," ETC.
GREAT DEBATES IN
Rebinding of this volume
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The knickerbocker Press, Rew Dork
"HE controversies treated in Volume I., dealing
with, purely political or constitutional questions arising in sequence of time in our national development, invited and even compelled presentation in chronological order. The controversies in the present volume, being economic, were largely synchronous, both with each other and with the constitutional debates. So, while each controversy will be presented in chronological order, some other element than that of priority must be taken to decide precedence of subjects. Accordingly the author has gone to economic science to find in its fundamental principles a logical order of discussion.
Political economy is the science which treats of the production and distribution of wealth. Production is application of energy to satisfy human desire. The energy outside of man, i. e., natural energy, is called land. The energy, manual and mental, within man, i. e., human energy, is called labor. Labor applied to land produces wealth. That part of wealth used to produce more wealth by economizing natural and human energy is called capital. The process of distribution is complementary to that of production in every part. To land is distributed, i. e., assigned as its share of production, rent; to labor, wages; to capital, profits.' Rent, wages, and profits, either singly or in combination form income or revenue.
Hence the first subject that will be discussed in this volume is the Land question, and the second the Labor question, which will be considered in its purest form, disassociated from land or capital, as the right of men to the products of their toil, presented in American history down to the Civil War as the Slavery question. The problems of Industrial Slavery, the interference with the rights of labor by land monopoly and capitalistic privilege, which arose to a crucial issue after the Rebellion, are not discussed in this volume, which closes with the beginning of that great War of Emancipation.
These primary subjects are fully discussed in the present volume. Logically following them would be the subject of National Capital, the appropriation by the government of a portion of the revenue arising from the production of the country, and its expenditure for the promotion of public order and for further economic production. The controversy over Internal Improvements, as well as those over Railroads (in respect to land grants a land question) and the Isthmian Canal (Clayton-Bulwer Treaty), will be reserved for a full discussion down to the present time.
The great problem of national capital, as it is the central problem of all government, is Taxation, the acquisition of national revenue. Owing to the exigency of space, as well as because it should be treated in its entirety, from the foundation of the government to the present time, this subject will not be presented in the present work.
The term used for this return by many "economists of the chair" is interest, but, in the author's opinion, this should be reserved for the more specific sense of “money paid for the use of money."
Both logical, historical, and rhetorical considerations reserve the Money Question to a separate place in economic discussion.
Money is a standard of value and a medium of exchange. In both functions it greatly facilitates production and distribution of wealth, but it is an essential factor in neither process, as will be realized by the reader if he will imagine a people conducting all their exchanges by barter, using an ideal unit, perhaps, as a standard of value, and employing a clearing-house system of book-keeping to keep accounts. No government currency, either coin or notes, would be required, and yet the community would seem to possess all the economic machinery needed for the highest industrial development.
But it is an historical fact that money forms the basis for the business of all civilized countries, and that economic production and exchange are largely conducted on credit, balances and deferred payments (debts) being settled in money. Accordingly the problems of Credit, Banking and Currency become of supreme practical importance, however more fundamental in theory the questions of land, labor, and capital may be. Through a change in any of these three elements of finance, property is redistributed among individuals, just as in the case of any change, upward or downward in taxation. Either the debtor or creditor is mulcted at the expense of the other. Thus the power to monetize, or to control credit, like the power to tax, involves the power to destroy."
However, for the reasons that prevail in the case of Railroads and Taxation, the subject of Finance is not presented here, but reserved for more complete treatment.
See McCulloch vs. Maryland in Index.