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farm is represented by the number 100, and that the value of the productiveness of the land on the margin of cultivation is represented by 30. Then the rent of the first farm is represented by the number 70; but if the margin of cultivation is lowered so that the value of the productiveness of the worst land in cultivation which pays no rent is represented by 20, then the rent of the first farm becomes equal to a sum represented by the number 8o.
A brief recapitulation of Ricardo's theory. The rent of any particular land is the difference between its productiveness, and the productiveness of the worst land in cultivation which pays no rent, that is, the land on the margin of cultivation. Any circumstance therefore which causes the margin of cultivation to descend increases rent, because it increases the difference between the productiveness of any particular land and that of the worst land in cultivation which pays no rent. The margin of cultivation is determined by the price of agricultural produce. The price of agricultural produce is determined by the demand for it, or, in other words, by the number of the population. Hence an increase in population exerts a powerful influence to increase rents.
There is a certain antagonism of interest between the owners of land and the consumers of agricultural produce. From Ricardo's theory of rent may be deduced the supposition that in some respects there is an antagonism of interest between the owners of land and other classes of the community. The increase of population exerts a powerful influence to increase rents; but if carried beyond a certain point it is disastrous to the general interests of the community. If it were not for the fact that the rates for the relief of the poor are to a very great extent a charge on land, this antagonism of interest would be much more powerful than it is. If the landlords were relieved from the cost of pauperisin it would be actually
advantageous to the pecuniary irterests of the owners of the soil that people shoułd marry, recklessly and bring large families into existence; so that pozuiadoa migti.be increased and rents raised. Regarded from this point of view, it is a wise precaution which has entailed on landlords the disagreeable as well as (to them) agreeable results of over-population. If landlords were relieved from bearing the cost of pauperism they would really grow rich on the improvidence of the poor. The very same circumstance which produced the increased wealth of the one class would deepen the misery and degradation of the other. Hence while the landlord was becoming more and more wealthy, the struggle for existence among the very poor would become more and more intense. The tendency of this antagonism of interest is to a great extent counterbalanced by the cost of pauperism; and there are fortunately many other respects in which the interests of the owners of land and those of the general community are identical.
In some respects the Interests of Landlord, Capitalist, and Labourer, are identical. Notwithstanding that increased pauperism and increased rents arise from the same cause, it does not follow that the interests of landowners and of other classes are necessarily opposed under all circumstances. On the contrary, the interests of the landlord, the capitalist, and the labourer, are in some respects the
All are interested in rendering land, capital, and labour, as productive as possible. It is conceivable that some agencies may vastly increase the productive power of land, labour, and capital; in this case the share of wealth allotted to each might be increased, because there would be more to distribute as rent to the landlord, profits to the capitalist, and wages to the labourers. In the opinion of some persons, rent and profits in certain districts would both be increased if more wages were paid
to the poorest agricultural labourers. It is asserted that the wages paid in some parts of England are so small that they are insufficient to provide the labourer and his family with a proper supply of nourishing food, and that consequently if the labourer were the property of his employer it would be a profitable expenditure of capital to feed and house him better than he is fed and housed at the present time. It is therefore argued, that if he received higher wages his labour would be more efficient, and he would consequently be a more valuable servant to his employer. It is a remarkable fact, bearing out this theory, that in Northumberland, where the condition of the agricultural labourer is superior to that of similar labourers in any other part of England, where his wages are highest and his home most comfortable, there rents are also the highest, and agriculture is generally in the most prosperous condition. But it is to be feared that it will be some time before the Wiltshire and Dorsetshire peasant is raised to the level of his brother labourer in Northumberland. Employers cannot raise a labourer's wages unless they believe that doing so will make his labour more efficient. If his labour is made more efficient, an increase in the rate of wages would not reduce the profits of the farmer, or the rent of the landlord, and the condition of the labourer would be permanently improved if he employed this increase of wages in raising his habitual standard of comfort, by living in a better house, and eating better food and more of it. If however his additional wages were spent at the publichouse, or in rearing a more numerous family, the efficiency of his labour would be in no way increased, and a tendency would be at once exerted to reduce wages to their former level. A certain amount of intelligence, morality, and sobriety, are consequently necessary in order to enable a labourer to retain permanently the benefits accruing from increased wages. It may be here pointed out that these remarks on the probable result of increased wages apply equally to any circumstance which renders cheaper the daily food of the labourer. The real reward of the workman is increased, although his money wages remain unchanged, if the price of bread is reduced. This real reward does not consist of so many pieces of money, but the commodities for which the money will exchange. If the price of food were to-morrow reduced by one-half it would not follow that the condition of the poor would be permanently improved. If they availed themselves of the opportunity to improve their style of living, to give their children a better education, they would be able to retain the advantages of their increased prosperity ; but if cheap food only enabled a heaped-up population to heap itself up still more, if its benefits are frittered away in the support of mere numbers, then the condition of the labourer will be soon no better than before.
Population not a measure of National Prosperity. There are a vast number of economic problems which will be solved with perfect readiness by those who have a thorough grasp of Ricardo's theory of rent. A right understanding of this theory and of the proposition enunciated in Section 1. that a demand for commodities is not a demand for labour, will enable the student to detect and avoid some of the most common fallacies, which are often propounded as if they were self-evident truths. Such, for instance, as the statement so often either expressed or implied in the newspapers and elsewhere, that the prosperity of all countries is accurately measured by the growth of their population—that in proportion as population increases, national prosperity also increases. This statement is, no doubt, within certain limits true, in a country, like Australia, where there is abundance of fertile land, and where consequently the necessaries of life are very
cheap. In such a country as this an increase of population augments the national wealth because an additional supply of labour is wanted to develope its great natural re
But in old countries, such as England and many other European nations, labour is already over-abundant; the resources of such countries are strained to the utmost to maintain their existing populations. It is true that skilled labour is not over-abundant in England, but an increased population is scarcely likely, in the present condition of the country, to add to the number of skilled labourers. It is not from the pauper class, or from those who are only one step removed from pauperism, that skilled labour is drawn ; on the contrary, it will be found most abundant where the condition of the labouring classes is the most prosperous. A skilled labourer must be educated, and he or his parents must be in a position to spend both time and capital while he is learning his trade; these considerations shew that over-peopled countries are not favourable to the production of skilled labourers. The condition of the very poor in such countries is precarious, owing to the high price of agricultural produce and the low wages produced by the competition of a very numerous labouring population. Hence the rising generation of labourers is brought up under unfavourable conditions : the moment a child is able to earn a sixpence he is sent to work; he grows up uneducated and underfed, and finally he is added to the ranks of unskilled labour or of pauperism. The manner in which increased population affects the rate of wages will be hereafter explained.
Rent does not increase the price of Agricultural Produce. One of the most important conclusions deduced from Ricardo's theory is, that rent does not form a part of the price of agricultural produce; or, in other words, that agricultural produce would be no cheaper if all rents were