Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/473

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459
THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK.

natural law are correlative or reciprocal. We produce to consume, and we consume to produce, and the one will not go on independently of the other; and although there may be, and actually is, and mainly through the influence of bad laws, more or less extensive mal-adjust- ment of these two great agencies, the tendency is, and by methods to be hereafter pointed out, for the two to come closer and closer into correspondence.

Next in order, it is important to recognize and keep clearly in view in reasoning upon this subject, what of good these same agencies, whose influence in respect to the future is now regarded by so many with alarm or suspicion, have already accomplished.

A hundred years ago the maintenance of the existing population of Great Britain, of the United States, and of all other highly-civilized countries, could not have been possible under the then imperfect and limited conditions of production and distribution. Malthus, who in 1798 was led by his investigations to the conclusion that the popula- tion of the world, and particularly of England, was rapidly pressing upon the limits of subsistence, and could not go on increasing because there would not be food for its support, was entirely right from his standpoint on the then existing economic conditions; * and no society at the present time, no matter how favorable may be its environments in respect to fertility of land, geniality of climate, and sparseness of population, is making any progress except through methods that in Malthus's day were practically unknown. The Malthusian theory is, moreover, completely exemplifying itself to-day in India, which is densely populated, destitute in great degree of roads, and of the knowledge and use of machinery. For here the conditions of peace established under British rule are proving so effective in removing the many obstacles to the growth of population that formerly existed, that its increase from year to year is pressing so rapidly on the means of subsistence, that periodical famines, over large areas, and accom- panied with great destruction of life, are regarded as so inevitable that the creation of a national famine fund by the Government has been deemed necessary.f

  • "Malthus made no prediction in the strict sense of the word. He had drawn out

from experience that the human race tended to increase faster than the means of subsist- ence; its natural increase being in geometrical ratio, and the increase of its means of sub- sistence an arithmetical one; so that population had been kept down only in past times by war and famine, and by disease as the consequence of famine. He was bound to anticipate that a continuance of the process would expose the race once more to the operation of these natural checks, or to a descent of the masses in the scale of living, or to both of these evils. That the new experience has been different from the former one, and that owing to various causes the means of subsistence have increased faster than the population, even when increasing at a Malthusian rate, is no disproof surely of the teach- ing of Malthus. His statistical inquiries into the past remain as valuable as ever."— "Some General Uses of Statistical Knowledge.' Robert Giffen, Royal Statistical Society of England, 18S5.

\ The present condition of India constitutes one of the most curious and interesting