Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/249

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FALLACIES OF MODERN ECONOMISTS.

tagonistic to others, impinging on each other, rebounding, expending force uselessly, with endless friction, noise, and breakage. How difficult it must be to form any intelligent classification, a moment's thought must convince us. Here is a man whose motive power is love of money, who shrinks from nothing, dares all, endures all, to satisfy this passion. There is one whose sympathies are strong, who spends and is spent for others, philanthropically. Another is driven by conceit, by love of fame; another by fine clothes, and another by love of power; another sacrifices all for knowledge, and so on. All these and thousands of other types, possessing not one, but many passions in varied amounts, and probably no two individuals identical, go to make up this unit which we call society. And then we divide them into laborers and capitalists, and prescribe hard and fast rules by which we assume the conduct of each class is controlled, and on these assumptions we build a science! Such is the science of political economy!

Take, for instance, the term "laborer." To whom does it refer? "To the producer," says our economist. Producers of what? "Of wealth." And what is wealth? "Good things," says one. "Useful things,", says another. And what is a useful thing? "That which in its operation conduces to human welfare or pleasure." So that the laborer is an animal or a machine, the product of which is finally resolved into terms of human pleasure. What man is there who is not a laborer? Who does not produce pleasure to others as well as to himself? Why, the very act of living requires an expenditure of labor. And from this sheer act of existence up to the hardest kind of manual labor there is a gradual crescendo, a line of unbroken continuity.

How, then, can you draw a complete dividing line separating producers from non-producers? Surely not at digging the earth, nor even at manual labor. Try as you will, I fail to see where a dividing line comes, save only between the dead and the living. If, for instance, you admit the school-teacher, the actor, the musician, the painter, the confectioner, or the milliner, as laborers, why should you omit the friend, the husband, the child? For the basis of the classification of the first is the satisfaction of human desires. The latter class likewise satisfy human desires![1]

Again, if we attempt to draw a line separating capitalists from laborers, we are met with the same difficulty. For, as capital is the mother of labor, every laborer must of necessity be a capitalist, and from the man who possesses simply physical health, strength, and reasoning faculties, with clothes enough to cover