CHAPTER 4
CAPITAL AND INCOME

THE distinction between capital and income is rooted in moral ideas. Morality is neither rational nor irrational; it operates, so to say, in a different dimension. It is irrational to burn incense to idols in order to improve the crops, for observation shows that free-thinkers, with their scientific methods, get better crops. But it is not irrational to burn incense because it is right and seemly so to do. It is irrational to allow one's conduct to be influenced by the thought of the pleasure that one will derive from being famous a hundred years hence, but it is not irrational to feel a sense of obligation to the future inhabitants of the earth. 'We must preserve our national heritage for the sake of future generations' and 'What should we do for posterity? They have never done anything for us' are expressions of two opposite moral ideas, and neither one is more rational than the other.

But we can look at an economy from the outside, as a going concern, and observe that its viability depends upon the moral ideas of its inhabitants, and the extent to which they live up to them. (Even with the robins, instinct, or whatever it is, that makes them recognise each other's territorial rights, works like a code of morality ensuring the viability of the species.)


MORALITY AND VIABILITY

The morality of a peasant, who gathers his crops according to the rhythm of the seasons, is to put back into the soil what he takes out of it, and to set aside seed from each harvest, so as to preserve productive capacity for the future, not only for his lifetime, or his children's lifetime, but for the future as such. It is this morality which produces the conception of

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