Page:Instead of a Book, Tucker.djvu/217

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
201
MONEY AND INTEREST.

but his words are a virtual admission of their validity and hence a reduction of interest to an unsubstantial form. He seems, therefore, to have written them without thought of Mr. Kelly; for, had he realized their effect, he could not—assuming his honesty—have prepared the article, which has no raison d'être except to prove that interest is a vital reality apart from money monopoly. On the other hand, assuming his dishonesty, the suspicion inevitably arises that he purposely smothered Mr. Kelly's article in order to subsequently juggle over the matter with less expert opponents. Unhappily this suspicion is not altogether unwarrantable in view of the tactics adopted by George in his treatment of the rent question.

The matter seems, too, to have taken on importance, as it is now acknowledged that "the theory of interest as propounded by Mr. George has been more severely and plausibly criticised than any other phase of the economic problem as he presents it." When we consider that George regards it as an economic law that interest varies inversely with so important a thing as rent, we see that he cannot consistently treat as unimportant any "plausible" argument urged in support of the theory that interest varies principally, not with rent, but with the economic conditions arising from a monopoly of the currency.

But, however the article may be accounted for, it is certainly before us, and Mr. George (through his sub-editor, Louis F. Post, for whose words in the "Queries and Answers" department he may fairly be held responsible), is discussing the in-terest question. We will see what he has to say.

It appears that all the trouble of the enemies of interest grows out of their view of it as exclusively incidental to borrowing and lending, whereas interest on borrowed capital is itself "incidental to real interest," which is "the increase that capital yields irrespective of borrowing and lending." This increase, Mr. George claims, is the work of time, and from this premise he reasons as follows:

The laborer who has capital ready when it is wanted, and thus, by saving time in making it, increases production, will get and ought to get some consideration,—higher wages, if you choose, or interest, as we call it,—just as the skilful printer who sets fifteen hundred ems an hour will get more for an hour's work than the less skilful printer who sets only a thousand. In the one case greater power due to skill, and in the other greater power due to capital, produce greater results in a given time; and in neither case is the increased compensation a deduction from the earnings of other men.

To make this analogy a fair one it must be assumed that

skill is a product of labor, that it can be bought and sold, and