Economic Sophisms/102

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"What misleads the adversaries of machinery and foreign importations is, that they judge of them by their immediate and transitory effects, instead of following them out to their general and definitive consequences.

The immediate effect of the invention and employment of an ingenious machine is to render superfluous, for the attainment of a given result, a certain amount of manual labour. But its action does not stop there. For the very reason that the desired result is obtained with fewer efforts, the product is handed over to the public at a lower price; and the aggregate of savings thus realized by all purchasers, enables them to procure other satisfactions; that is to say, to encourage manual labour in general to exactly the extent of the manual labour which has been saved in the special branch of industry which has been recently improved. So that the level of labour has not fallen, while that of enjoyments has risen.

Let us render this evident by an example.

Suppose there are used annually in this country ten millions of hats at 15 shillings; this makes the sum which goes to the support of this branch of industry £7,500,000 sterling. A machine is invented which allows these hats to be manufactured and sold at 10 shillings. The sum now wanted for the support of this industry is reduced to £5,000,000, provided the demand is not augmented by the change. But the remaining sum of £2,500,000 is not by this change withdrawn from the support of human labour. That sum, economized by the purchasers of hats, will enable them to satisfy other wants, and, consequently, to that extent will go to remunerate the aggregate industry of the country. With the five shillings saved, John will purchase a pair of shoes, James a book, Jerome a piece of furniture, etc. Human labour, taken in the aggregate, will continue, then, to be supported and encouraged to the extent of £7,500,000; but this sum will yield the same number of hats, plus all the satisfactions and enjoyments corresponding to £2,600,000 that the employment of the machine has enabled the consumers of hats to save. These additional enjoyments constitute the clear profit which the country will have derived from the invention. This is a free gift, a tribute which human

genius will have derived from nature. We do not at all dispute,