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but this is owing to the nature of the work itself, and has nothing to do with the fact of wages being paid to the workmen, or of their working for themselves. If one hour's labour de voted to the killing of a beaver, had, in a rude state of society, from the superior skill and activity, or the greater expenditure of animal exertion which it required, been reckoned equivalent to the labour of a whole day devoted to the killing of a deer, one beaver would have been exchanged for one deer. After the hunters had been engaged as servants to some master huntsman or capitalist, the wages of those engaged an hour in beaver hunting would be equal to the wages of those engaged a day in deer hunting; and the produce of their labour would still retain the same relative value in the market.
But, in such an inquiry as this, it is not at all necessary to advert to the particular rates at which different kinds of labour are paid. In the payment of wages, allowance is always made for the different degrees of skill required in the workmen, and for the different intensity of the labour to be performed. It is this which renders 4s. or 5s. a day paid to a jeweller or coalheaver, not really a greater reward than 1s. 6d. or 2s. paid to a common farmservant. If it were any thing but a reasonable compensation for the superior skill, precision, accuracy, and strength required in these businesses, there would be an influx of labourers to the jeweller and coalheaver trades; and competition would soon reduce the rate of wages in them to its proper level, or to that sum which is barely adequate to remunerate such workmen. In the following remarks we shall, therefore, exclude all consideration of the difference in the species of labour, and shall suppose the rate of wages, and the rise and fall of that rate, to be quite uniform and general.
From what has been already stated, it cannot we think be disputed, that if a certain quantity of goods, twenty pairs of stockings for example, manufactured by independent workmen, freely exchanged for forty pairs of gloves, manufactured under similar circumstances, they would continue to do so after both sets of workmen had come to be employed by some master manufacturer. In the first case, it is true, as Dr Smith has observed, that the whole produce of the labour of the workmen would be long to themselves; but that is no reason why, when they became servants to another person, the exchangeable value of the commodities they manufacture should be at all affected. Commodities are in every case bought by commodities. If the glove manufacturer were to urge the plea of his paying a large proportion, or the value of a large proportion of his gloves as wages, as an inducement to the stocking manufacturer to give him VOL. XXX. NO. 59.
more stockings in exchange for his gloves, the latter would have it in his power to reply, that the same cause affected him to precisely the same extent. After workmen had been hired, the value of both gloves and stockings would be specifically divided into two different portions—the wages of labour and the profits of stock; but it would not be at all increased. The cause which Dr Smith supposes would increase the price of the stockings, would, if it had any effect, equally increase the price of gloves, and of every other commodity; that is, it would leave the relative values of them all just as it found them. Twenty pairs of stockings would still exchange for forty pairs of gloves, and would continue to do so, until some change had taken place in the quantity of labour necessary to the production of the one or the other. It is this quantity of labour, and not the manner in which the value produced by it is afterwards divided, that determines the real price or the worth in exchange of every commodity.
The circumstance of one set of labourers continuing independent, cannot enable them, as has been contended, to dispose of their goods at a cheaper rate than those which had been manufactured by other labourers working on account of a master. The profits of stock would be included in the price of the commodities manufactured by the one as well as by the other. An independent workman, is only another name for a capitalist who personally superintends the employment of his own stock. Industry by itself is unable to produce almost any commodity possessed of exchangeable value. In the rudest state of society, some capital would be required to support the persons engaged in hunting and fishing, and to construct the weapons necessary to enable them to kill wild animals: And hence the exchange able value of such animals would depend, not merely on the quantity of labour required to effect their destruction, after, hunting and fishing tackle had been provided, but on the whole quantity of labour required to effect that object; including therein a certain proportion of the labour necessary to furnish the implements, or capital, without which the animals could not have been killed.
The same is the case in every stage of society. A profit on stock, or, what is the same thing, a remuneration for the use of the capital which has been either accumulated by the labourer himself, or which has been afforded to him by another, must always be paid out of the value of the commodity he produces. A shoemaker who manufactures shoes on his own account, must secure the same rate of profit on their sale, that would accrue to a master shoemaker were he employed by him as a work; man. He must not only possess a capital adequate to maintain himself and his family until his shoes can be brought to market, but he must also be able to provide himself with a workshop and tools, to advance money to the tanner to pay his leather, &c. &c. If he did not, exclusive of the ordinary wages of labour, realize a rate of profit on this capital equal to what was obtained by the master shoemaker, he would lend it to him, and work on his account; and it is obvious he could not realize a greater rate of profit, because his shoes could not be sold at a higher price than those manufactured by the capitalist. In this way, the profits of stock constitute a component part of the value of every commodity; but that value is not, as we shall afterwards show, at all influenced by the circumstance of the rate of profit being high or low; it depends entirely on the total quantity of labour required to bring the commodity to market.
The distribution of the labour necessary to the production of a commodity among several hands, can, in like manner, make no alteration on this result.
• In estimating,' says Mr Ricardo,' the exchangeable value of stockings, we shall find that their value, comparatively with other things, depends on the total quantity of labour necessary to manufacture them, and to bring them to market. First, there is the labour necessary to cultivate the land on which the raw cotton is grown; secondly, the labour of conveying the cotton to the coumtry where the stockings are to be manufactured, which includes a portion of the labour bestowed in building the ship in which it is conveyed, and which is charged in the freight of the goods ; thirdly, the labour of the spinner and weaver ; fourthly, a portion of the labour of the engineer, smith, and carpenter, who erected the buildings and machinery by the help of which they are made ; fifthly, the labour of the retail dealer and many others, whom it is unnecessary further to particularize. The aggregate sum of these various kinds of labour, determines the quantity of other things for which these stockings will exchange, while the same consideration of the various quantities of labour which have been bestowed on those other things, will equally govern the portion of them which will be given for the other.
• To convince ourselves,' continues Mr Ricardo,' that this is the real foundation of exchangeable value, let us suppose any improvement to be made in the means of abridging labour in any one of the various processes through which the raw cotton must pass, before the manufactured stockings come to the market, to be exchanged for other things; and observe the effects which will follow. If fewer men were required to cultivate the raw cotton, or if fewer sailors were employed in navigating, or shipwrights in constructing the ship in which it was conveyed to us ; if fewer hands were employed in raising the buildings and machinery, or if these, when raised, were rendered more efficient, the stockings would inevitably fall in value, and, consequently, command less of other things. They would fall
, because a less quantity of labour was necessary to their production ; and would therefore exchange for a smaller quantity of those things in which no such abridgment of labour had been made.
Important, however, as this principle unquestionably is, the consequences to which it leads are still more so. Nothing in the whole science of political economy was reckoned better established, than that a rise or a fall of the rate of wages was attended by a proportionable increase or diminution of the price of commodities. But if the exchangeable value of a commodity is not increased, except by an increase of the quantity of labour necessary for its production, this cannot possibly be the case. In such circumstances, its value will not be augmented by an enhancement of the rate of wages.
Thus, supposing the value of money to be invariable, and the quantity of labour necessary to produce 10001. worth of gloves to remain the same, the gloves would continue to sell for that sum, whether the wages actually paid to the manufacturer amounted to 5001., to 8001., or to 9001. Commodities, in short, would continue to sell after the rise of
for the very same price as before, but the proceeds would be differently divided :A greater share would belong to the labourer, and a less to the eapitalist; or, what is the same thing, the profits of stock would be diminished.
In order to illustrate this proposition, we may be allowed to make a supposition, which, although it can never actually take place, will serve to set our doctrine in a clearer point of view. Should the quantities of labour necessary to bring every different species of commodities to market be increased in exactly the same relative proportions, their comparative exchangeable value would remain unaltered ; while their real price would, however, be augmented. A bushel of corn would not then exchange for a greater quantity of muslins, or of broad cloth, than it did before the increased expense of its production; but it would represent a greater quantity of labour. . In such circumstances, although the prices of commodities would remain stationary, the wealth and comforts of the whole society would be diminished. Every person would have to make greater exertions to obtain a certain proportion of any one commodity; but, as the expense of producing all commodities had been equally increased, it would not be necessary to make greater exertions to obtain one particular species than another.
But, if a general and proportionable increase in the cost of producing commodities would not alter their relative values to one another, how is that to be effected by a general and proportionable rise of wages ? The thing is obviously impossible. If a beaver exchanged for a deer, when wages were at ls. per diem, it must do the same thing when they are universally increased to 10s. or 20s. The market price of the beaver and of the deer would remain unchanged; but, after wages had been increased, a greater share of that price would belong to the labourer, and a less to the capitalist than previously: The real price of commodities would, it is obvious, not be in the least affected by this increase of wages. The quantity of labour necessary to their production would not be increased; and it would, therefore, be equally easy to obtain them.
We believe we may now leave this part of our subject. But, as the doctrine, that a rise of wages is constantly followed by an increase of prices, has been so very generally entertained, we shall subjoin the following observations of Mr Ricardo, which set the truth of his theory in a new and striking point of view.
say that commodities are raised in price, is the same thing as to say, that money is lowered in relative value ; for it is by commodities that the relative value of gold is estimated. If, then, all commodities rose in price, gold could not come from abroad to purchase those dear commodities, but it would go from home to be employed with advantage in purchasing the comparatively cheaper foreign commodities. It appears, then, that the rise of wages will not raise the prices of commodities, whether the metal from which money is made be produced at home or in a foreign country. All commodities cannot rise at the same time, without an addition to the quantity of money. To purchase any additional quantity of gold from abroad, commodities must be cheap, and not dear. The importation of gold, and a rise in the price of all home-made commodities, by which gold is purchased or paid for, are effects absolutely incompatible. The ex. tensive use of paper money does not alter this question ; for paper money conforms, or ought to conform, to the value of gold; and, therefore, its value is influenced by such causes only as influence the value of that metal."
The universally received opinions respecting the effect of a rise of wages on the price of commodities, have obviously originated in confounding a rise in the money price of wages with a rise in their real price. Every inference, however, as to the rate of wages at particular periods, not deduced from an investigation clearly distinguishing whether the exchangeable value of money had remained unaltered, must be essentially er roneous.
be raised from 1s. to 2s. or 3s. per diem; and yet the real wages of the labourer,
The money wages