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water has no exchange value so long as it is supplied spontaneously in sufficient quantities by the bounty of nature, because no one will buy what he can obtain gratuitously and without labour ; but water immediately becomes wealth when the labour of man is required to convey it to the spot where it is needed. In the same manner, all commodities which have an exchange value have been made available for consumption by many different kinds of labour. It is in fact almost impossible to enumerate all the different kinds of labour which have been required to produce such an apparently simple thing as bread. Bread, it is true, may be said to be the result of the labour of the baker, but his work is only a very small part of the great amount of labour employed in producing bread. There is the miller who grinds the wheat, the reaper and the sower, the ploughman who prepares
the land, the blacksmith who makes the plough, and the miners who obtain the metal of which the plough is made; besides these there are the waggoners, bargemen, sailors and others, who convey the materials to the places where they are wanted; the manufacturers of the tools of the blacksmith, and so on in never-ending succession.
Definition of the exact service which Labour renders to Production. The exact service which Labour renders to the Production of Wealth is defined by Mr Mill to be "putting things into fit places," or "moving one thing from or to another." This simple definition is so comprehensive as to include all the varied operations of industry. “ Labour then, in the physical world, is always and solely employed in putting objects in motion; the properties of matter, the laws of nature, do the rest.”
Take as an example the labour which is employed in building a house. How are bricks made? By moving a certain kind of clay from the place in which it is found; by pressing it into a mould and by bringing it in contact
with fire. How are planks made? By moving an axe through a tree, and by moving a saw through the fallen trunk. It is unnecessary to enumerate further instances of the application of the principle, that "man has no other means of acting upon matter than by moving it.” (Principles of Political Economy, pp. 32, 33.)
Many examples of the extent to which skilled labour can add to the value of commodities may be taken from the various operations of watchmaking. For instance, one pound weight of the microscopically small steel screws used in watches, is worth six pounds weight of pure gold, or more than £280. In an article on watchmaking by Miss Faithful in the Victoria Magazine, the following description is given of the “hair-spring” which every watch contains :—“A hair-spring weighs only
of a pound troy. In a straight line it is a foot long. With a pair of tweezers we draw one out in spiral form till it is six inches long ; but it springs back into place, not bent a particle from its true coiling. It must be exquisitely tempered, for it is to spring back and forth 18,000 times an hour, perhaps for several generations. A pound of steel in the bar may cost a dollar; in hair-springs it is worth 4000 dollars."
Though no wealth can be produced without labour, yet there are some kinds of labour which may be very useful but which do not assist the production of wealth. This labour is called “unproductive.”
Political economists have differed widely in their definitions of unproductive labour. This has partly arisen from some economists attaching an implied reproach to the epithet “unproductive.” There is however no reproach conveyed in this term, unless the production of wealth is the only worthy object of existence. Mr Mill's definition of Productive Labour is “that which produces utilities fixed and embodied in material objects.”
Labour which is indirectly productive. The question then arises, “Is the labour of a teacher unproductive ?” A schoolmaster may not with his own hands produce “utilities fixed and embodied in material objects," but through his instrumentality the number of productive labourers may be vastly increased. Let us suppose, for example, that a schoolmaster educates 50 boys taken from lives of idleness and vice in the streets of London ; if he trains them in habits of intelligent industry, a very great number of them will probably become productive labourers. Is the inventor of a machine an unproductive labourer when by means of his invention the productiveness of other men's labour may be increased a hundredfold? These questions must certainly be answered in the negative. A distinction must therefore be drawn between labour which is indirectly productive and that which is directly productive. In the former class we place the labour of the schoolmaster, the inventor, the policeman, etc. ; in the latter we place the labour of the shipwright, the shoemaker, and all those labourers whose manual work produces utilities fixed and embodied in material objects.
Unproductive Labour. Unproductive Labour is that which neither directly nor indirectly helps to increase the material wealth of the community. The labour of an opera singer, an actor, a public reader or preacher, is unproductive. The labour of a statesman is generally unproductive, although occasionally it is indirectly productive of wealth. The abolition of the corn laws, for instance, and the adoption of a free-trade policy, have caused an enormous increase in the material wealth of this country. But it must be remembered that the work of statesmen in getting rid of protection consisted in releasing trade from the shackles which the mistaken policy of previous generations of statesmen had imposed upon it. often the case that when the labour of statesmen appears
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to be indirectly productive in the highest degree, it gains this characteristic because it undoes the mistakes of former statesmen. It is therefore very difficult to say whether on the whole the labour of statesmen is indirectly productive of wealth, except in so far as it guarantees the security of life and property.
Sometimes the labour of productive labourers turns out to be unproductive ; as for instance in the case of the labour which produced the numerous unfinished canals which were abandoned about the time when it became apparent that railroads would supersede water carriage. On the contrary the labour of an unproductive labourer sometimes becomes, as it were by an accident, productive of wealth. Through the labour of scientific chemists, discoveries have been made which have greatly facilitated many industrial processes.
It will thus be seen that it is sometimes difficult to decide concerning any class of labourers whether their labour will prove productive or unproductive. Before a final decision can be given the result of their work must be known.
Adam Smith's Three Advantages of Division of Labour. There are many circumstances which greatly increase the productive power of labour. Foremost among these must be placed the Division of Labour; not because it is more powerful than any other means of increasing the productiveness of labour, but because the subject has been popularised by Adam Smith's famous example about pin-making. In many industrial processes, such as that of making a glass bowl, a great number of workmen are employed, each one of whom performs a single operation. One man blows the glass into shape ; another polishes it; another makes deep flutings on it; then it is re-polished by another; and after a variety of more or less delicate operations, a highly skilled workman engraves upon it some beautiful and artistic figures.
The various advantages which are produced by the division of labour were enumerated, as follows, by Adam Smith. ist, The dexterity of the workman is increased. 2nd, Time is saved by the workman not passing from one employment to another. 3rd, Suitable machinery is more likely to be invented, if the mind of the workman is concentrated on a special process.
An illustration of the first advantage. The increased dexterity of the labourer is by far the most important advantage derived from the division of labour. In some of the manufactures of such a town as Birmingham, the dexterity of the workmen produced by division of labour is quite marvellous. In the pen manufactory the sole occupation of some of the workmen is to take the pens from the machine in which they are made: this is done with such wonderful rapidity that the spectator can scarcely follow with his eye the movement of the workman's hand. This dexterity can only be acquired by the workman devoting himself to a single operation.
An illustration of the second advantage. An illustration of the advantage gained by the workman not passing from one employment to another may be taken from what every one has seen at a railway station. When the lamps in the carriages are being taken out, one man goes on the top of the carriages, takes out a lamp, throws it down to a man who puts it into a rack for the purpose of holding lamps. In this manner thirty or forty lamps can be taken out in a very few minutes ; whereas if one man performed the whole of the work, and had to ascend and descend the carriages with every two or three lamps he removed, it would probably take him more than half an hour to take out as many as with the assistance of another man he removes in five minutes.
An illustration of the third advantage of the division of La. bour. Adam Smith says that "the third advantage of the