Page:The Economic Journal Volume 1.djvu/116

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accurate definitions, it may be premised that the application of the term 'capital' to skill and the like will be justified or not according as we wish to emphasise resemblances or differences. In many inquiries we certainly ought to draw a sharp line between capital and labour in the narrow and popular senses of the terms, especially in cases where ethical considerations cannot he altogether excluded. At the same time, however, there are other occasions upon which analogy will be more useful than contrast, and such an occasion is offered by the problem I propose to discuss in the present paper.

Briefly stated that problem is to find the money-value of the 'living capital' of the United Kingdom, that is to say, the 'capital' fixed and embodied in the people as distinguished from the lands, houses, machinery, and the like.

The problem is by no means new, and is, in fact, old enough to possess the interest of a revival. It was a favourite topic with Sir William Petty and his followers in 'political arithmetic.' It maybe worth while to quote Petty's general description of his method, and also to give a particular example. The principle is explained as follows:[1] 'Suppose the people of England to be six millions in number, and that their expense at £7 per head be forty-two millions; suppose, also, that the rent of the lands be eight millions and the yearly profit of all the personal estate be eight millions more; it must needs follow that the labour of the people must have supplied the remaining twenty-six millions, the which being multiplied by twenty (the mass of mankind being worth twenty years' purchase as well as land) makes five hundred and twenty millions as the value of the whole people: which number, divided by six millions, makes above £80 sterling to be the value of each head of man, woman, and child, and of adult persons twice as much; from whence we may learn to compute the loss we have sustained through the plague, by the slaughter of men in war, and by the sending them abroad into the service of foreign princes.' The concluding sentence indicates the uses of the method: but a more interesting example may be given—no less than the most 'thorough' solution of the Irish problem ever attempted, so 'thorough,' indeed, that Petty is careful to explain that it must be looked upon rather as a 'Dream or Resvery than a rational Proposition.'[2] He begins by saying that he has heard many wise men, 'when they were bewailing the vast losses of the English in preventing and suppressing rebellions in

  1. Political Arithmetic, p. 192, edition 1699.
  2. Op. cit. p. 226.