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without reference, as Mr. R. would have it, to the labor contained therein; for they grow on land, according to his doctrine, of the 3d or 4th quality. Yet this is the land which the author of the “ Principles of Political Economy" and his disciples would throw out of cultivation! It is not intended to be said, though, but that general supply and demand affect the market price of the corn above mentioned, as they regulate that of all commodities whatsoever. This Mr. R. again infers when, in page 7, he admits that even “gold and silver are no doubt subject to fluctuations from the discovery of new and more abundant mines... They are further subject to fluctuation from the decreasing produce of the mines after they have yielded a supply to the world for a succession of ages.
But from which of these sources of fluctuation is corn exempted ?” Thus he allows that supply and demand influence greatly and chiefly the price of both gold and corn; but is desirous, on the other hand, to make the impression, that the quantum of labor required, and that only, regulates their value; as in page 8, “Is it (corn) not on the other hand subject to be enhanced in value from prohibitions of importation, from increasing population and wealth, and the greater difficulty of obtaining the increased supplies, on account of the additional quantity of labor which the cultivation of inferior lands requires ? Is not the value of labor equally variable, being not only affected, as all other things are, by the proportion between the supply and demand, which uniformly varies with every change in the condition of the community, but also by the varying price of food and other necessaries, on which the wages of labor are expended?” Now this first sentence betrays one of the inconsistencies and contradictions the writer before alluded to. After acknowleging that “prohibitions of importation” (which prevent greater supply) and “increasing population and wealth” (which occasion greater demand), affect and regulate the price of corn, as the writer maintains, Mr. R. chooses to add the greater difficulty of obtaining the increased supplies on account of the additional quantity of labor which the cultivation of inferior lands requires ?” He first assigns the price to one cause, or set of causes, and then to another, which latter is in reality only an effect arising from the former, and never produced or undertaken without the primary cause being in full operation. That fresh land is only taken into culture when supply is diminished, and prices consequently high, is proved by the converse fact, that, during the late depression, much of our soil was turned into herbage, or left to itself. Thus demand and supply are, in course of time, sure to regulate themselves, though the former is the least variable ; but should it augment, as, with increasing population and wealth,” will be the case, are we to be told that no means must be used at home to meet it ?that no more lands, because they are somewhat inferior, are to be taken into cultivation, from the erroneous idea that it costs more money to till them, and that they will influence and augment the price of corn? Is this just reasoning against such a step from what has been before cited in favor of supply and demand, whilst increased culture alone could meet the deficiencies of former produce and diminish its value? So far from being an undesirable measure, additional cultivation is the most proper way to correct the national evil of want of supply, by which, and which only, the price of corn is affected, “ as all other things are,” even according to Mr. R.'s own, but nearly involuntary, admission, yet (contrary to his other doctrine) without any reference to the cost of production. This latter idea is, however, again unintentionally allowed by him in the separation of rent from labor, or general outgoings. In page 62 he says, “ Corn is not high because a rent is paid ; but a rent is paid because corn is high: and it has been justly observed, that no reduction would take place in the price of corn, although landlords should forego the whole of their rent. Such a measure would only enable some farmers to live like gentlemen, but would not diminish the quantity of labor necessary to raise raw produce on the least productive land in cultivation.” Now with respect to the non-influence of rent on the price of corn, Mr. R., in his abstract consideration of the subject, argues rightly :--but how can he, then, with justice assert, that the amount and value of labor bestowed in its production regulates the price? What matters it, supposing the costs of raising corn determine its value in the market, whether they consist of wages paid for labor, or rent for the machinery which employs that labor? In reference to the farmer, they are both the same, and affect his profits equally ; that is, under the head of general outgoings, take away from the value received for his gross produce, which, however, neither the one nor the other has any power to raise in the market. They each
in amount and in effect, as that itself varies in price : thus agricultural labor is affected by, and does not affect or rule the value of raw produce, which is solely raised or depressed, according to its supply or demand in the country. However correct Mr. R. might have been in stating that the quantum and amount of labor influences the price of manufactures, he is decidedly wrong in extending it to landed produce, and from that cause is led to the further and erroneous deduction of the impolicy of cultivating our inferior soils. If a true political economist, he ought, from other views, to have suspected the justice of his opinion on this head, since it would tend to abridge rural labor, which wants occupation, and the supply of which is generally more than equal to the demand. It would also check population, the bulwark of every state where there is
proportionate capital, and would diminish the sum of human happiness. The writer of this is, however, further assisted in his opinion by another uncontradicted quotation from Mr. Buchanan, in the work now animadverted on, at the bottom of a note in page “ It is not from the produce, but from the price at which the produce is sold, that the rent is derived ; and this price is got, not because nature assists in the production (or, it might be added, not because so much labor is bestowed on it), but because it is the price which suits the consumption to the supply.” Here we have arrived at the right point, though it be contrary to Mr. R.'s own statements; and to show how confused are some of his arguments even on the subject of landed rent, the author need only extract the last passage on this head in pages 75 and 76, where he says: “ In speaking of the rent of the landlord, we have considered it as the proportion of the whole produce, without any reference to its exchangeable value ; but since the same cause, the difficulty of production, raises the exchangeable value of raw produce, and raises also the proportion of raw produce paid to the landlord for rent, it is obvious that the landlord is doubly benefited by difficulty of production : first, he obtains a greater share ; and, secondly, the commodity in which he is paid is of greater value.”
It is difficult to understand this as it now appears, but not difficult to perceive more than one contradiction. The rent of the landlord certainly is, or ought to be, a proportion (or an equivalent in money according to that proportion) of the whole produce; but if paid in money, it must have a reference to the exchangeable value of the produce, even according to the allowance of Mr. R. himself, in the passage just now quoted, where he, by making no objection, admits, “ It is not from the produce; but from the price at which the produce is sold, that the rent (or what is the same thing, the amount of rent,) is derived : and this price is got because it is the price that suits the consumption to the supply, which by difficulty of production is of course lessened, and its exchangeable value raised.” If Mr. R. meant that the proportion or rent was to be paid in kind, how could difficulty of production, or, what is the same thing, diminished crops, though it might raise the exchangeable value, preserve or afford, much more increase, the proportion of raw produce to be given to the landlord? Supposing his share a fourth part, would he have so much from 500 or from 600 quarters of corn? If paid in kind, according to the ratio of production, the increased price would make it, probably, a matter of indifference with respect to his revenue ; but it is next to an impossibility he could be benefited, as Mr. R. has declared, by this difficulty of production. It is evident he could not obtain a greater nor so great a quantum of raw produce, though the commodity might, and
probably would, be of greater proportionate value. The author will add, that there is a note intended to explain this statement of Mr. R.'s; but it only seems to make “confusion worse confounded.” Difficulty of, or great expense in production, so far from being a benefit, is a loss to, or diminution of, the rental of the landlord. The whole charges for, or burthen of the soil, indirectly, but ultimately, are paid by him. This is the reason why pasture land in general, which is farmed at little cost, bears a higher value, and that which is free from tithe, though to be paid by the tenant, or easily assessed to the poor or other rates, is worth more in rental than land differently circumstanced. The amount of labor required on every soil ought also to influence its annual rental. The fairest way of letting or taking an estate is on the foregoing calculation, which even then admits of a sufficient uncertainty as to seasons, times, management, &c. to make it a speculative proceeding in either party, especially where a lease is granted. When a farm is to be let, the landlord or his agent should wellconsider its capabilities of production under the best management, which he has a right to calculate on, and then weighing the amount of produce to be expected both in live and dead stock, should affix, to the best of his experience and judgment, its future probable values in the market. This would bring a large gross sum in the year, which, were there no other outgoings but the simple ones of interest for the capital advanced by the tenant, and common remuneration for his labor, would leave to the owner of the soil a very considerable rental. From this supposed revenue he has, however, to deduct whatever the tenant pays for land-tax, poor-rates, church and highway rates, laborers' wages, mechanics' bills, &c., besides making an allowance for casualties, extraordinary cultivation, and, in most instances, repairs. Thus the rent actually paid to, or the revenue of the landlord, is considerably affected by a number of, and, indeed, the whole of, the charges which burthen the land, reducing it to only a third, or, perhaps, a fourth part of the gross amount and value of the produce at market. How, then, since he is the real payer of all these expenses by letting his land at a rental proportionate to them (and any knowlege of business convinces us that such is the case); since rent and expenses, as regards the marketable price of corn, and with respect to the revenue or profit of either the landlord or tenant, are nearly synonymous terms, or have only the same influence, how could Mr. R. be justified in saying that the one should be the effect and the other the cause of agricultural values ? Experience denotes a different conclusion. In the very same year, although cultivation may not have been attended with any particular cost, we find grain varying in price 20 or 30 per cent., which can be accounted for only on the well or ill-founded impression of the magnitude in supply or demand. It matters not whether it be a real or supposed abundance or scarcity (though intelligence of such a nature is, in general, pretty correct), for a report of either will materially influence the market price, and exalt or depress it as the idea gains ground. It has been known, though, that even in the real plentifulness of any article of landed produce, an opinion of its scarcity has prevailed, and consequently raised its exchangeable value. Thus we see, that so far from any reference being made to the actual cost of production, as a regulator of prices, according to Mr. R.'s, datum, such prices are often guided even by a visionary impression, are frequently ideal, or, in general cases, submit to the ruling power of supply and demand.