Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

dom 150 per cent, while the production of wheat has increased little more than 25 per cent--the price having decreased in the same period 40 per cent. Rent would, therefore, according to Mr. Porter's statement, at this time buy four times the wheat in England as it would thirty years ago; making an increase of income to the landowner of 300 per cent, while the farmer has increased the crop only 25. The proportion which rent would bear to the crop would be represented as follows: crop 125, rent 250. Thus, if rent, as according to Malthus, (the statement quoted four times by the Professor,) bore the proportion of two-fifths, or 40 per cent, of the crop, it would now stand as 90 to 125—the proportion of rent to the crop having been augmented from two-fifths to more than three-and-a-half fifths; proving that Malthus was either originally mistaken as to the proportion and operation of rent, or that circumstances have materially altered these proportions and operations since his time; and that Mr. Carey's theory of the superior increase of food to population, with a decreasing proportion to rent, is an utter fallacy. And yet the Professor sums up this matter in the following modest strain : “ If we suppose the same rate of progress to have existed in the ten years preceding 1801 as since, the increase of population between 1790 and 1841 will amount to 73 per cent. The rent has advanced, according to Porter, 150 per cent, or twice as fast, and inasmuch as the produce has augmented according to Malthus, twice as much as rent, it has increased four times as rapidly as the consumers." Thus, after giving us "unexceptionable testimony" from the Edinburgh Review, and the assurance of the “exceeding great increase of agricultural production” from Mr. Porter, the Professor makes no calculation as to the relative increase of produce and population from the statistics he had quoted, but makes a supposition as to the increase of population, and then adds together the increase of rent and the statement of Malthus, to prove that agricultural produce had quadrupled, when the statistics show that it had increased only 25 per cent.

The Professor pursued the same mode of begging the question with the French statistics in the former part of his article, when the price of wheat showed, according to the law of supply and demand, that the increase of crop was not equal to that of population. The Professor proceeds to say, " he thinks it has been made apparent, that capital in land follows the same laws as that of moveable property." Now, I think quite the contrary. I think it has been proved, that the value of land in England, as measured in rent, has increased 500 per cent more than the produce; and this is a premium obtained out of the profit of circulating capital; and all without expense to the landowner. The Professor's ideas of capital appear to be somewbat confused, but no doubt that may arise in some measure, from the absurdity of the theory which he advocates. Many persons suppose that all wealth is capital. Large amounts of wealth may be accumulated, sold, and used, but capital must at all times be limited by the power of producing absolite necessaries. It is this circumstance which causes the difference in the operation of price, between manufactured articles and raw produce. Money, whether of paper or of gold, beyond a certain necesssary amount, is not capital; and as it is not consumed, beyond the necessary wear, it depreciates faster than any other commodity.

The protectionists are complaining of the falling off of the exports of breadstuffs, &c.; but they should remember that the cheapest article must be exported. This has not been caused by any lack of demand in England, but because we had more money than grain. But to return to our subject. The Professor continues, in rather a pedantic and supercilious tone, to show his own and the superiority of the Carey school, over that of Ricardo and Malthus, in the following manner: “The difficulty with the Ricardo and Malthus school of economists is, that instead of observing the facts, and endeavoring to deduce a theory from them, they have invented an bypothesis to which they are determined that facts shall be made to conform. It is the old error of the middle age scholastics, from which it has been supposed that Bacon had redeemed the human intellect. Its followers are so given over to strong delusion, that they answer the characteristic description of Shakspeare, of which we have during the last year had so many brilliant examples,

“And like a scurvy politician seem to see

The thing that is not.'”. I shall not attempt to vie with the Professor in quoting Shakspeare, for, not being in possession of Mr. Clark's Concordance, I might not quote correctly; I shall therefore give that up; but I must take leave to say, that I think he has made a material mistake in the first line of our quotation, as to who are the parties implicated in the "strong delusion,” which I must leave to others to correct. With regard to "the old error of the middle age, from which it has been supposed that Bacon had redeemed the human intellect," I can only say, that unless that commodity called human intellect had been stowed away somewhere in a large reservoir, so that it might have been doled out to those who were deficient, I can see no ground for the supposed redemption: for I know certain people in the community whose intellect is so small that they cannot perceive the truth, even if they strike their heads against it. But I must now return to the Professor, at whom I hope no one will suspect I have been hinting, although he appears to proceed without rule or compass, for he quotes again some passages from the June article, which he had quoted and commented upon in a former number, which I must be allowed to notice. He says : “R. S. asks, if food tends to increase more rapidly than population, how is it that capital has accumulated unequally in the hands of a few, and that number rapidly decreasing in all countries ?" and then proceeds as follows: “We have shown by unimpeachable authorities of this very sect, that the number is not decreasing but increasing.” Thus it is conceded, that “capital has accumulated unequally in the hands of a few"--so few in England, that out of a population of about thirty millions, one hundred and nine thousand comprise the whole of the middle and aristocratic classes, when, less than half a century ago, the land alone was divided among two hundred and forty thousand proprietors-showing most conclusively, that although the number of taxable individuals may have increased within certain limits, since 1812, including large as well as small incomes, down to £150 a year, that this number of taxable individuals has increased by the absorption of the capital of the other one hundred and fifty thousand-proving, as far as England is concerned, the other part of the allegation, that “the number of capitalists is rapidly decreasing." From the same paragraph from which we quoted before, we have another quotation from the June number to the following effect: “If food tends to increase more rapidly than population," asks R. S., "what gives capital a continually increasing power over the wages of labor ?"

The Professor then says: “It has been shown that labor is more and more emancipating itself with the progress of population and capital.” To this I must decidedly object. The French statistics produced in the former part of the article, were obviously mere calculations, without taking into account the whole of the facts in the case, as shown before; and the English statistics contradict the conclusion. The Professor says, (on page 35,) “The pumber of agricultural laborers in Great Britain has been constantly decreasing in the proportion which it bore to the whole population and the crop. Thus, Mr. Porter informs us, (Progress of the Nation, vol. i., p. 148,) that the total number of families in Great Britain has increased, between 1811 and 1831, from 2,544,215 to 3,414,175, or at the rate of 34 per cent; the number of families employed in agriculture has increased only from 896,998 to 961,134, or at the rate of 74 per cent. It was shown by the census of 1841, that the number of persons employed in agricultural labor was less absolutely and of course still less proportionally than in 1831. We are not yet furnished with the information upon this point obtained by the census of 1851, but there can be no doubt, that the same decrease in the proportion of agricultural laborers has continued down to the present period." Now, this information exactly accords with our previous deductions, and contradicts those of the Professor.

The large farmers and large landowners in England have constantly been swallowing up the small ones, and forcing this part of the agricultural population into the cities, to increase the middle or the working classes, as the case may be; and although the number of persons having incomes of fifteen dollars a week and upwards to fifty, may have increased in a larger ratio than population, this has been produced, as I have before intimated, by the accretion of smaller capitals, and therefore sustains my previous statement, that the number of capitalists is rapidly decreasing. While the number of taxable individuals has increased, in relation to population, at the rate of 150 per cent, the increase of the wealth of that class has been very nearly threefold greater," than the increase of the class itself. And, in relation to population, the landowners have decreased within the same period 750 per cent; therefore each of the 150 of the taxable individuals must have absorbed the capital of five of the missing landowners. Notwithstanding the rapid relative decrease of the English agricultural population, (350 per cent in twenty years,) we are informed, both by the statistics froin the Edinburgh Review, and the quotations from Mr. Porter, of the “exceeding great increase of agricultural production in the same period; showing that the land has not been going out of cultivation, but that the labor has been driven off, and replaced by a larger proportionate amount of capital, in the shape of improved machinery; and therefore the wages of labor must have been reduced to the minimum of subsistence, and their numbers thinned, either by the operation of nature's immutable law, or forced into the large towns, to compete for subsistence with the manufacturing populations. Thus, while (according to Professor Smith) “the labor cost of agricultural products has been diminished," capital has increased unequally in the hands of a few, and increased its power over labor, while rent also has increased. Thus the Professor has assisted me to demonstrate those facts, of which I was previ. ously aware, and for which I owe him my most cordial thanks.

From the last quotation he proceeds as follows: "It certainly was a plausible figment of the imagination, that men in the first instance appropriate the most fertile soils, and only take the inferior grades into cultivation, as they are driven to it by necessity; for forty years the assertion that they did so, stood uncontradicted.” Now I beg leave to say, with all due deference to Professor Smith and the Carey school in general, that in my humble opinion, it is not, at this moment, of the slightest imaginable consequence, whether the assertion were or were not a figment of the imagination, for the principle of rent derived from it, could operate only so long as society remained in the agricultural state. As soon as Commerce and manufactures began to collect people into large masses that principle of rent was modified, and could only operate to the smallest possible extent, and another principle of rent, kindred in its operation, supervened, wbich had, and continues to have, the same effect as the original. And although this principle was not perceived by Malthus, Ricardo, or McCulloch, many of the general axioms, and the final conclusions of those writers, remain intact, and that is the reason why it may be said, that I belong to the same school. But, notwitstanding, this " figment of the imagination" must be placed to the account of the Professor's favorite author upon political economy, Adam Smith, as I have before demonstrated, though he did not carry it out to its legitimate results. He also perceived and enunciated that part of the ultimate principle of rent which operates by the collection of large masses of people in cities, requiring food and raw materials of every description to be carried from a greater distance, and therefore requiring an extra amount of labor for the same relative supply of necessaries to a given point; leaving out that part of the principle operating by the necessary abstraction of fertility by the increase of population—the loss of manure in various ways, and the consequent extra amount of labor required to obtain materials to keep up the fertility of the poorer and more distant soils.

The Professor thinks that the admission in the June article “ that mankind will at all times cultivate the most available soils, those that will produce the largest returns for the labor and capital ready at the time to be invested," oversets the Malthusian theory-assisted also by the following assertion : “ And that it is not until labor is cheapened by competition, that society can be forced into the expenses of clearing and draining, which, in some instances, cost more than the land was originally worth.” Now, I must say, that I do not perceive any material difference between either of these propositions and the general principles of the Malthusian and the Ricardo theory. It cannot be supposed that an individual possessing common sense, or the common instincts of nature, would go two miles from his dwelling to cultivate a piece of land, when he might cultirate other land of equal quality at one half the distance, or that he would go to the expense of clearing and draining, while there was other land to cultivate that would pay the common rate of profit. It is evident, therefore, that if an individual go two miles instead of one, to cultivate a piece of land, it would be because it was "the most available," or, in other words, its relative fertility must be such as to overpay the extra cost of labor required ; and in regard to clearing and draining it is also evident, that as soon as labor and capital are sufficiently cheap and plentiful to allow of the cultivation of such land, bringing the common rate of profit, or the next best rate to the common rate, it will be cultivated. It is obvious, therefore, that so long as selfinterest is the universal motive of mankind, the rate of profit could not increase; simply because every individual would take the most available or the best land first. There is no other way of accounting correctly for the decrease of the rate of profit upon capital.

Money and the precious metals might be increased indefinitely, but this would not decrease the rate of profit upon capital. The precious metals have the least pretension to be called capital, of any existing commodity. Under these circumstances their relative value would be lowered, but the principal and interest would maintain the same relation to each other as before, and the rate of profit would still be indicated by a decrease in the rate of interest. From these premises we are therefore bound to say, that if “ food increased faster than population,” the rate of profit must also increase, which neither Mr. Carey nor Professor Smith will assert. Whether "Malthus and Ricardo, if alive, would emphatically have declined such testimony” as that which I have just quoted from a former article, I am not able to say, but this I may be allowed to say, that I never guarantied (by implication or otherwise) anything beyond their general and ultimate conclusions. I therefore cannot be held accountable for their errors and mistakes. But I cannot admit that their theory of cultivation was an error, though, as I have before stated, it is now of no consequence whether it were 80 or not; one thing is certain, that there are more than twenty millions of acres of land in England untilled, which the "corn law” failed to force into cultivation; as also the present low rate of profit; and yet England imported in 1850, seventy-two millions of bushels of grain.

Professor Smith has also quoted Professor Johnson to show that, in his opinion, the loss of manure, by the sewerage of each town of a thousand inhabitants, is equal to the fertility required for the production of a thousand quarters of wheat, which I should presume does not assist the Professor's theory of production. Although quoted from a free-trade article in the North British Review, I must beg leave to differ, both from the reviewer and Professor Johnson, for although these calculations are very ingenious, and well calculated to attract the unthinking, little or no dependence can be placed upon them. It is pretty well understood, that this is the only loss of manure permitted in England, and there can be no doubt that this loss is overrated, as party writers are apt to overrate small matters. For sixty years England has been an importer of raw produce to a considerable extent, and more especially within the last thirty, she has imported vast quantities of grain, beef, pork, lard, butter, cheese, eggs, coffee, tea, sugar, spices, cotton, hemp, flax, tallow, hides, &c., besides manures. Thus it is not too much to say, that she imports one-third of her consumption, and, according to the writer in the North British Review, “the importation of food bears a higher proportion to the home produce, than the annual addition to the population." And yet, with all the refuse matter remaining from this large and increasing quantity of food and raw material grown upon other soils, the average fertility of land in England has not reached more than twenty-eight bushels—an amount far from equal to the production of the virgin soils of America. It is not pretended by any of the writers quoted by the Professor, that any of the land in England is going out of cultivation, or becoming less valuable, which it ought to do, under the operation of such large importations, if Mr. Carey's theory were true. On the contrary, we find, according to the necessary sequence of the Malthusian and Ricardo theory, that the importations of grain are constantly increasing “in a higher proportion to the home produce than the annual addition to the population." Thus the production of food in England is relatively decreasing, under all these favorable circumstances, and while she has twenty millions of acres of uncultivated land. But if, as according to Professor Johnson, the loss of manure by sewerage be great, there is still one thing to console us, the labor and capital which it would require to collect it, is not

« AnteriorContinuar »