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

product.* The farmer, the manufacturer, the merchant, is constantly occupied in comparing the price, which the consumer of a given product will and can give for it, with the necessary charges of its production; if that comparison determine him to produce it, he is the organ of a demand for all the productive agency applicable to this object, and thus furnishes one of the bases of the value of that agency.

On the other hand, the agents of production, animate and inanimate, land, capital, and human labour, are supplied in larger or smaller quantity, according to the action of the various motives, that will be detailed in the succeeding chapters; thus forming the other basis of the value at which their agency is rated.

Every product, when completed, repays by its value the whole amount of productive agency employed in its completion. A great part of this agency has been paid for before the entire completion of the product, and must have been advanced by somebody: other part has been remunerated on its completion; but the whole is always paid for ultimately out of the value of the product.

By way of exemplifying the mode, in which the value of a product is destributed amongst all that have concurred in its production, let us take a watch, and trace from the commencement, the manner in which its smallest parts have been procured, and in which their value has been paid to every one of the infinite number of concurring producers.

In the first place we find, that the gold, copper, and steel, used in its construction, have been purchased of the miner, who has received in exchange for these products, the wages of labour, interest of capital, and rent paid to the landed proprietor.

The dealers in metal, who buy of the original producer, re-sell to those engaged in watch-making, and are thus reimbursed their advance, and paid the profits of their business into the bargain.

The respective mechanics, who fashion the different parts whereof a watch is composed, sell them to the watchmaker, who, in paying them, refunds the advance of their previous value, together with the interest upon that advance; and pays, besides,

____________________
*
It has been already seen, that the emand for every product is great, in proportion to the degree of its utility, and to the quantity of other products possessed by others, and capable of being given in exchange. In other words, the utility of an object, and the wealth of the purchasers, jointly determine the extent of the demand.
In digesting the plan of this work, I hesitated for a long time, whether or no to place the analysis of value before that of production; to explain the nature of the quality produced, before entering upon the investigation of the mode of its production. But it appeared to me, that to make the foundation of value intelligible, it was necessary to have a previous knowledge of wherein the costs of production consist; and for that purpose, to have a just and enlarged conception of the agents of production, and of the service they are capable of yielding.

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