On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 358 pages of information about On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures.

5.  At the moment when this opinion as to the necessity for a new review was passing through the press.  I was informed that the elements of such an undertaking were already organized.

6.  I have been suggested to me, that the doctrines maintained in this chapter may subject the present volume to the opposition of that combination which it has opposed.  I do not entertain that opinion; and for this reason, that the booksellers are too shrewd a class to supply such an admirable passport to publicity as their opposition would prove to be if generally suspected.  But should my readers take a different view of the question, they can easily assist in remedying the evil, by each mentioning the existence of this little volume to two of his friends.

{I was wrong in this conjecture; all booksellers are not so shrewd as I had imagined, for some did refuse to sell this volume; consequently others sold a larger number of copies.

In the preface to the second edition, at the commencement of this volume, the reader will find some further observation on the effect of the booksellers’ combination.}

Chapter 23

On the Effect of Machinery in Reducing the Demand for Labour

404.  One of the objections most frequently urged against machinery is, that it has a tendency to supersede much of the hand labour which was previously employed; and in fact unless a machine diminished the labour necessary to make an article, it could never come into use.  But if it have that effect, its owner, in order to extend the sale of his produce, will be obliged to undersell his competitors; this will induce them also to introduce the new machine, and the effect of this competition will soon cause the article to fall, until the profits on capital, under the new system, shall be reduced to the same rate as under the old.  Although, therefore, the use of machinery has at first a tendency to throw labour out of employment, yet the increased demand consequent upon the reduced price, almost immediately absorbs a considerable portion of that labour, and perhaps, in some cases, the whole of what would otherwise have been displaced.

That the effect of a new machine is to diminish the labour required for the production of the same quantity of manufactured commodities may beclearlyperceived, byimaginingasociety, inwhichoccupation are not divided, each man himself manufacturing all the articles he consumes.  Supposing each individual to labour during ten hours daily, one of which is devoted to making shoes, it is evident that if any tool or machine be introduced, by the use ofwhich his shoes can be made in halfthe usual time, then each member ofthe community will enjoy the same comforts as before by only nine and one-half hours’ labour.

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On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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