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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/645

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635
MENTAL ENERGY.

is maintained by the exchange of one form of service for another. The measure of compensation is not the number of hours of labor put into the product or service. The standard by which services are measured is what the buyer is saved from doing, not what the seller does. Each of us might possibly be able to house, clothe and feed ourselves if we were cast upon an island possessing sufficient natural resources. If a hundred persons representing all the classes in society were wrecked upon such an island, each adult or each person above ten years old would probably find a way to house, feed and clothe himself. Why do we not house, feed and clothe ourselves, and why would not the hundred representatives of different classes wrecked on an island each do his own part of the work for himself only? Simply for the reason that men are either endowed from birth with different aptitudes, or different aptitudes are developed in their environment. Each one finds out that by delegating to another certain kinds of work he saves his own time and energy. Each one finds out what he can do for the next man, while the next man finds out what he can do for him.

There is in every transaction of life an unconscious cerebration or estimate of the services rendered to us, saving each of us mental or manual energy, whenever we buy any product or service from another. That unconscious cerebration affects the minds or habits or acts of both parties in every purchase and sale. There may be errors in regard to the service itself. The ignorant man will buy quack medicines that he had better let alone, but what he pays under the false impression of benefit to himself is his measure of what he hopes to save; while the quack medicine vender, taking advantage of the ignorance of others, filches from them the means of subsistence, even of wealth, under the pretext of service. As time goes on, however, false measures of service are eliminated with increasing intelligence, and true benefits constitute more and more the vast proportion of the exchanges.

The same ignorance which leads the masses of the people of every country to submit to military dictation, even in a bad cause, also leads to the wars of tariffs among nations by which prejudice and animosity are kept up. The false conception that in international commerce what one nation gains another must lose, is promoted by the advocates of protection, many of whom very honestly believe that through the exclusion of foreign goods domestic industry may be promoted, wholly ignoring the fact that arts and industries are developed by intelligence and not by legislation.

The advocates of bounties and of special legislation also ignore the fact that in this country, where mental energy is more nearly free in its action than in any other, manufactures and the mechanic arts develop in due proportion according to the age and the natural resources of the territory or state, nine-tenths or more of the occupations which