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across those really difficult parts of the problem of interest to which I have called attention in my criticism and of whose evasion I accused him. Professor Clark confounds the two questions. A part of the product, which is in fact produced by a "mass of capital goods,” he fails to ascribe to that mass. On the other hand, if I understand his mysterious calculation, he ascribes to it something else which, in fact, it has not produced, but which has been produced by other factors in production; namely, its own existence. He does this by means of its inherent “self-perpetuating” or “self-renewing" quality.
On the proper mode of investigation in our subject and as to what constitutes an inadmissible "evasion," Professor Clark entertains opinions diametrically opposite to mine. These opinions he has supported by reasoning which seems to me the most dubious part of his rejoinder. He believes that the problem of distribution which must be considered in our own day, and as to which social parties are especially in conflict, is how the product flowing from present production is divided between present labor and now existing capital. In the solution of this problem he believes we have nothing to do with past activities or past claims, which, to be sure, are to be investigated, but investigated separately. The method of isolation requires us to avoid a confounding of the problem of the present with any problem of the past. My suggestion that the inquiry as to distribution be extended to those factors to which the existence of present capital is due he regards as due to a “confusion" resting on the simultaneous examination of two different periods (pp. 364, 365).
To this I reply as follows. Nearly all theories of distribution, and, more particularly, the theory of my distinguished opponent, rest the claims of the several producers on some sort of relation to the product whose existence is due to them. The fundamental ground of justification is not that the immediate present decides as to the distribution of those things which at this same present are available. This perhaps would be the method of distribution for a band of robbers, who proceed at once to the division of the booty before them. Distribution, in its economic sense, takes place among those who have taken part in the creation of the product and in such quotas as correspond to their contribution. No one has stated this principle more clearly and distinctly than Professor Clark himself. The gist of his whole theory of distribution is that each factor of production reaps that which is due to its contribution to the joint product.
I ask, is it in any way possible to deny or disprove that the coat ready to-day has been created partly by the farmer who bred the sheep, the spinner, the weaver, and so on? This is surely so, notwithstanding certain peculiar views of Professor Clark's, of which again I shall have occasion to say something elsewhere. But my opponent cannot deny that a consideration of the part played by these preparatory operations and of the share of these preparatory workers in distribution belongs to the theory of distribution, and is not to be set aside under the pretext that it is all a matter of the past. Is the creation of a consumable commodity-setting aside a negligible few of the very simplest products-ever the work of a mathematical instant? Is it not always the fruit of a process of production which runs through time and in which the cooperating factors succeed each other? And, this being the case, must not the operations gone through for the completion of a consumable commodity be necessarily of the "past” kind,-in the case of the coat, everything except the very last stitch of the tailor? Is this not as certain as it is that the beginning and the middle of a piece of work must precede the end, and that cause must precede effect? And is not, then, a theory which bases distribution on the
contributions of the factors of production necessarily deprived of its foundation if the contributions of the past are disregarded merely because they are past?
Professor Clark speaks of a mixture of periods. Now what is the period to be whose limits we are to regard with such scrupulous respect? Literally one day, that “today” of which Professor Clark so often speaks? Or, perhaps a longer period? A week? A month? A year? Is there any essential difference between the nature of the contribution from the labor of yesterday and that of last week or of last year? Does not each of these labors contribute to the joint product, and must not each one of them, in precisely the same way, be incorporated in an “existing capital good”? Is not yesterday's stitch of the tailor incorporated in the nearly finished coat in precisely the same way as the labor of the shepherd was incorporated in the successful stages of wool, yarn, and coat? Surely, the length of time of this incorporation is not material.
Or is it perhaps a ground for distinctions that the intermediate product has a name of its own,-wool, yarn, cloth,
-or that it has been put together in a different workshop from that whence the final consumable commodity issues? Any one of these views surely quite misunderstands the nature of the division of labor as a form of social co-operation. I know not which one of them to ascribe to my honored opponent. I can only ask again, What should decide the measurement of the period beyond which we are not to follow the share of labor in the creation of a final product without incurring the reproach of an inadmissible “confusion"? Nay, is it not clear that, when Professor Clark accuses me of confounding between periods in industry, I am really sticking to the subject which he has himself set before us? He tells us that the product is to be distributed among all the factors that co-operate in its creation. These factors in truth succeed each other: we cannot do otherwise than to consider factors which are not contemporaneous and which act in different periods.
Professor Clark, finally, says something about “past claims" and of a "problem taken from the past." No doubt the shepherd who tended the sheep in a past year has been paid for his co-operation long ago. But would my honored opponent still speak of past claims and past problems if, what is by no means an impossibility, this shepherd had not yet been paid? Would it not be unmistakably clear in this case that a factor whose contribution was made in the past, nevertheless must be considered in the distribution of the present? Would it not, then, be obvious that an investigation is unavoidable as to the contribution which this earlier labor had made to present product? And that such an investigation is by all odds pertinent in order to ascertain how the present product is to be divided? Is this investigation perhaps superfluous or modified in its essential outcome, because a payment of wages has already been made for this earlier labor? More particularly for such a doctrine as Professor Clark's, is not this payment to the earlier labor to be measured according to the contribution which that labor has made to the final product? And does not, therefore, the payment of that previous labor involve the ascertainment of the contribution of that previous labor? In fact, Professor Clark rests his whole scheme of distribution on the answer to a simple question of fact; namely, what part of a joint product is to be ascribed to each individual co-operating factor. Can the answer to this fundamental question be changed one iota by the circumstance that one of these co-operating factors has received payment in advance of the share due to it under this scheme? Can it suddenly cease to be true that this earlier labor, already paid, has co-operated in the creation of the coat, and is its co-operation more or less effective than it would be if the laborer had not been paid in advance for the product due to his labor? The same question arises as to the share due to this past labor, whether the laborer appears in person or whether some representative appears who has paid him off and presents his claim.
The crucial question then arises, does the fact that an earlier factor in production, say labor, has been paid and disposed of, make a change in the extent of its claim on the present product which it has aided to create? We must ask whether the laborer who has created an “existing capital good" may ascribe to himself the whole, or not so much of the whole, as is contributed by this capital good on its utilization by the person who has entered on its possession. Is this only a problem of the past, an historical or antiquarian inquiry, with no bearing on the actual problem of distribution? Does not the answer involve the further inquiry whether a difference arises, something which is in reality, or apparently, deducted from the imputation of product to this past labor and which enures to the possessor of an existing capital good? Laborers to the present are as much concerned with the answer to this fundamental question as those laborers of the past who have already been paid or disposed of; for they will have precisely analogous claims on the product of the future. Is it perhaps to be supposed that the laborers, when they ask this question through those advocates who present their theoretical claims, are to be told first that their question comes too early, and next that it comes too late, but that it never is pertinent to the problem of existing distribution? The inquiry, in this view, would come too late if it bears upon the earlier labor which contributed to present labor; for then the only question is as to “past” labor, which is no longer to be considered in the existing problem. It would come too early if it bears upon the claims of present labor to the future product; for then the question is as to claims