CHAPTER 2
THE MEANING OF WEALTH

WEALTH, as the copy-book maxims tell us, is not necessarily a source of satisfaction. There are two ways of satisfying desires: one is to get more and the other to want less. Moreover human beings do not pursue satisfaction in a direct and consistent manner; they are constantly going a long way out of the way to torment themselves. But, taken by and large, as individuals, groups and nations, they do pursue wealth, and the very fact that human beings are interested in wealth justifies some of them (called economists) in talking about it, without being obliged to take a view on the wisdom or folly of the race.1


EXPENDITURE AND CONSUMPTION

Economic wealth is not a very precise idea and we must be content with a rough definition of it.2 Broadly, economic wealth is the command over goods and services that are desired, or consuming power for short. The significance of production lies in the consumption which it makes possible. Under the capitalist rules of the game the major part of production is for sale, not for consumption. The motive of each individual is to get command over money, and a flow of goods and services suitable to meet human wants emerges as a byproduct of their efforts to do so. At any moment, also, a large part of production is devoted to maintaining and increasing the stock of capital goods to be used in future production. But an economy in which the processes of production did not provide for consumption would not be viable, so that looking

____________________
1
Cf. D. H. Robertson, Utility and All That.
2
Cf. above, p. viii.

-15-

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