A Treatise on Political Economy, Or, the Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Wealth

By Jean-Baptiste Say; Clement C. Biddle et al. | Go to book overview

cessary to investigate, in the study of the nature, and progress of human wealth. Whether the actual owner of the soil, or the person from whom he derived its possession, have obtained it by prior occupancy, by violence, or by fraud, can make no difference whatever in the business of the production and distribution of its product or revenue.

Perhaps it is scarcely necessary to remark, that property in that class of productive means, which has been called human industry, and in that distinguished by the general name of capital, is far more sacred and indisputable, than in the remaining class of natural powers and agents. The industrious faculties of man, his intelligence, muscular strength, and dexterity, are peculiar to himself and inherent in his nature.--And capital, or accumulated produce, is the mere result of human frugality and forbearance to exercise the faculty of consuming, which, if fully exerted, would have destroyed products as fast as they were created, and these never could have been the existing property of any one; wherefore, no one else, but he who has practised this self-denial, can claim the result of it with any show of justice. Frugality is next of kin to the actual creation of products, which confers the most unquestionable of all titles to the property in them.

These several sources of production are some of them alienable, as land, implements of arts, &c.; and some inalienable, as personal faculties. Some also are consumable, as are all the items of floating (a) capital; others, inconsumable, as land. Some, too, there are, that are neither alienable nor consumable, yet are capable of destruction; as the human faculties, intellectual and corporeal, which vanish with human existence.

Such as are capable of consumption, as, for instance, the floating values, whereon production expends its energies, may be consumed either in such manner as to occasion a re-production, in which case they will still constitute a part of the means of production; or in such manner as to yield no further production, in which case they cease to form any part of those means, and are devoted to pure destruction, more or less rapid.

Although revenue, as well as the sources of production, is a constituent part of individual wealth, yet no one is reputed to reduce his fortune by the consumption of his revenue only, provided that he does not encroach upon his productive means; because revenue is a regenerating product, whereas the means of production, so long as they continue to exist, are a constant and perpetual source of new products.

The current value of these appropriable sources of production

____________________
(a)
Capitaux nobiliaires, which has been rendered floating capital, wherein are comprised all products, which the English law terms personal chattels, and which are sometimes called moveables, although some of these are of very slow consumption, as diamonds and precious stones. T.

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