A Treatise on Political Economy; Or the Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Wealth

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9781230256474: A Treatise on Political Economy; Or the Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Wealth

This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can usually download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1836 edition. Excerpt: ... 4000 dollars, will not be of any use in the comparison of a house in former, with a house in the present times; for the value of silver coin and of wheat have both varied in the interim. A house at Paris, worth 10,000 crowns in the days of Henry IV., would now be worth a great deal more, than another of that value now-a-days. So, likewise, one in Lower Britany, worth 4000 dollars, is of much more value than one of that price at Paris; for the same reason that an income of 2000 dollars is a much larger one in Britany than at Paris. Wherefore it is impossible to succeed in comparing the wealth of different eras or different nations. This, in political economy, like squaring the circle in mathematics, is impracticable, for want of a common mean or measure to go by. Silver, and coin too, whatever be its material, is a commodity, whose value is arbitrary and variable, like that of commodities in general, and is regulated in every bargain by the mutual accord of the buyer and seller. Silver is more valuable when it will purchase a large quantity of commodities, than when it will purchase a smaller quantity. It can not, therefore, serve as a measure, the first requisite of which is invariability. Thus, in the assertion of Montesquieu, when speaking of money, that " what is the common measure of all things, should of all things be the least subject to change," there are no less than three errors in two lines. For, in the first place, it has never been pretended, that money is the measure of all things, but merely that it is the measure of values; secondly, it is not even the measure of values; and lastly, its value can not be made invariable. If it was the object of Montesquieu to deter governments from altering the standard of their coin, he...

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