Front Page Titles (by Subject) Summary of Principles illustrated in this Volume. - Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 3
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Summary of Principles illustrated in this Volume. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 3 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1832). Vol. 3.
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Summary of Principles illustrated in this Volume.
Commodities, being produced by capital and labour, are the joint property of the capitalist and labourer.
The capitalist pays in advance to the labourers their share of the commodity, and thus becomes its sole owner,
The portion thus paid is Wages.
Real Wages are the articles of use and consumption that the labourer receives in return for his labour.
Nominal Wages are the portion he receives of these things reckoned in money.
The fund from which wages are paid in any country consists of the articles required for the use and consumption of labourers which that country contains.
The proportion of this fund received by individuals must mainly depend on the number among whom the fund is divided.
The rate of wages in any country depends, therefore, not on the wealth which that country contains, but on the proportion between its capital and its population.
As population has a tendency to increase faster than capital, wages can be prevented from falling to the lowest point only by adjusting the proportion of population to capital.
The lowest point to which wages can be permanently reduced is that which affords a bare subsistence to the labourer.
The highest point to which wages can be permanently raised is that which leaves to the capitalist just profit enough to make it worth his while to invest his capital.
The variations of the rate of wages between these extreme points depending mainly on the supply of labour offered to the capitalist, the rate of wages is mainly determined by the sellers, not the buyers of labour.
Combinations of labourers against capitalists (whatever other effects they may have) cannot secure a permanent rise of wages unless the supply of labour falls short of the demand;—in which case, strikes are usually unnecessary.
Nothing can permanently affect the rate of wages which does not affect the proportion of population to capital.
Legislative interference does not affect this proportion, and is therefore useless.
Strikes affect it only by wasting capital, and are therefore worse than useless.
Combinations may avail or not, according to the reasonableness of their objects.
Whether reasonable or not, combinations are not subjects for legislative interference; the law having no cognizance of their causes.
Disturbance of the peace being otherwise provided against, combinations are wisely therefore now left unregarded by the law.
The condition of labourers may be best improved,—
1st. By inventions and discoveries which create capital.
2d. By husbanding instead of wasting capital: —for instance by making savings instead of supporting strikes.
3d. By adjusting the proportion of population to capital.
printed by william clowes, stamford-street.