CHAPTER I
THE CLASSES OF INCOME

THE economic life of a robin is simpler than that of a man. Most of the year a robin's work consists in finding and eating food. He occupies a certain area of ground, and other robins behave as though they recognised his right of property in it, for each appears to fight with a good heart to defend his own territory and to be feeble and easily intimidated when invading a neighbour's. In the spring he is joined by a wife who, in addition to the work of feeding herself, undertakes capital construction, finding materials and building a nest. He does some extra work to feed her while she is sitting, and both do extra work to feed their young.1

Some human economies are only slightly more complicated than the robin economy; in a free peasant society each family owns an area of land and produces from it almost all that they consume, with a minimum of trade with other families. But in working (and, unfortunately, in fighting) a number of individuals who specialise and co-operate produce far greater results than the sum of their independent efforts, and consequently human economies develop into enormously intricate complexes of specialised activities. The method of distribution of the product of interlocking activities then becomes important.


WORK AND PROPERTY

The robin swallows the caterpillar that he finds; for him production and consumption are completely integrated. A man in a developed economy lives by consuming a part of the joint product of the whole society; there is no bit of it which

____________________
1
See David Lack, The Life of the Robin.

-3-

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