Page:Principles of Political Economy Vol 1.djvu/131

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109
FUNDAMENTAL PROPOSITIONS ON CAPITAL.

increased demand enables them to extend their transactions—to make a profit on a larger capital, if they have it, or can borrow it; and, turning over their capital more rapidly, they will employ their labourers more constantly, or employ a greater number than before. So that an increased demand for a commodity does really, in the particular department, often cause a greater employment to be given to labour by the same capital. The mistake lies in not perceiving that in the cases supposed, this advantage is given to labour and capital in one department, only by being withdrawn from another; and that when the change has produced its natural effect of attracting into the employment additional capital proportional to the increased demand, the advantage itself ceases.

The grounds of a proposition, when well understood, usually give a tolerable indication of the limitations of it. The

    labourers. Nobody pretends that such a change as this, a change from spending an income in wages of labour, to saving it for investment, deprives any labourers of employment. What is affirmed to have that effect is, the change from hiring labourers to buying commodities for personal use; as represented by our original hypothesis.

    In our illustration we have supposed no buying and selling, or use of money. But the case as we have put it, corresponds with actual fact in everything except the details of the mechanism. The whole of any country is virtually a single farm and manufactory, from which every member of the community draws his appointed share of the produce, having a certain number of counters, called pounds sterling, put into his hands, which, at his convenience, he brings back and exchanges for such goods as he prefers, up to the limit of the amount. He does not, as in our imaginary case, give notice beforehand what things he shall require; but the dealers and producers are quite capable of finding it out by observation, and any change in the demand is promptly followed by an adaptation of the supply to it. If a consumer changes from paying away a part of his income in wages, to spending it that same day (not some subsequent and distant day) in things for his own consumption, and perseveres in this altered practice until production has had time to adapt itself to the alteration of demand, there will from that time be less food and other articles for the use of labourers, produced in the country, by exactly the value of the extra luxuries now demanded; and the labourers, as a class, will be worse off by the precise amount.