Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/254

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tural products from her own soil. The obvious answer could be found in any economic text-book. England has great stores of coal and iron, while other regions have none, or what they have is of inferior quality. This localization of resources makes an exchange of products advantageous, and in such an exchange the lighter and more easily moved products are transported. This fact has been greatly to the advantage of England. Food has come to her instead of coal, iron, cotton and wool going elsewhere to be worked up. This advantage is now lost and there is a spread of industry to other nations, much to the disadvantage of England. The pressure that is now producing so much poverty in England is not due to diminishing returns, but to a more natural distribution of industry. Another reason for the movement of food to England has been the unstable political conditions elsewhere. If Russia will not protect industry, her food goes to countries where it is favored. The diminishing returns thus caused are felt, not in England, but in Russia. England gains by trade with inferior nations and has her profits raised thereby. It is not England but the inferior nations that pay the cost of transportation.

Professor Carver asks why does urban population grow, and again answers—the law of diminishing returns. The real reply is that urban population grows because the scale of production is increasing. Centralized industry yields a greater return than localized workers receive. He also asks why it is necessary to change our habits, eating, for example, more oatmeal and less beef? In replying, he is as far off here as in his other answers. It is not the poor who cut down the amount of meat they eat. It is the more intelligent, and they do it because a varied diet gives them more energy. That the English eat beef and wheat bread is not due to their superiority as food, but to historical conditions. English habits are social survivals, not physiological necessities. The English eat meat for the same reasons that the Jews refuse pork. If these old dietary laws prove anything, it is that the law of diminishing returns is a social tradition and not a physical law. Why, he also asks, are inventions and improvements made unless it be to enable increasing populations to avoid the law of diminishing returns? Inventions are not made to support increasing population: population increases because inventions have been made. I can point to forty instances where the increase of population has followed inventions. I doubt if he can point to one where the increase of population came first. Growing population is an effect, not a cause. Men make improvements to increase their product. The economy of effort is a psychic tendency, not a physical fact. We get inventions as men move up in the scale of existence, not as they move down.

Two fundamental facts are thus involved in the relations of men to nature. The resources of the world are localized and population must