Some Leading Principles of Political Economy Newly Expounded

By J. E. Cairnes | Go to book overview

PART II.
LABOR AND CAPITAL.

CHAPTER I.
THE RATE OF WAGES.

§ 1. IN discussing the laws of value, we have already partially solved the problems of wages and profits. For it has appeared that, where production assumes the character of a continuous operation, producers are in effect remunerated out of the values of their products, and that consequently wages and profits in each branch of production must stand, in the normal state of things and on the average, to wages and profits in every other branch, in the same relation as the values of the products from which they are derived. "Relative wages and profits" thus follow the same laws which govern the exchange value of commodities. In other words, our reasoning has involved this conclusion, that wages and profits, regarded as relative phenomena, are governed by Cost of Production, where the producers are in effective competition with one another, and, where they are not, by Reciprocal Demand. So far we were carried toward the solution of the wages and profits problem in the discussion of that of value; but it is important that we should not overrate the progress that has been effected. Let me repeat: what the doctrine of value reveals to us on this subject is the causes which determine the relative remuneration of laborers as among themselves, and that of capitalists as among themselves. It tells us why some

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