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Analysis of Mill's Principles of Political Economy (Classic Reprint)

Analysis of Mill's Principles of Political Economy (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Analysis of Mill's Principles of Political Economy

This absurdity, though none the less an absurdity, is rendered plausible because

(a) Wealth is always expressed in money, and it may be argued that what you spend your money on is not wealth but merely the use you make of your wealth.

(b) Money gives a command over the general fund of things useful and agreeable. It is the power of providing for any exigency or obtaining any object of desire, and is the only form of wealth which can be turned at once to any use. For this reason Governments especially are prone to attach almost exclusive importance to money, for they derive little advantage from taxes not collected in money.

B. That it consists of all useful things, e.g., air. But air is free and therefore can command nothing useful or agreeable in exchange for it. Would air become wealth if monopolised? Yes. Would it then add to the general store of wealth? No, because the addition to the wealth of the monopoliser would be balanced by what was subtracted from the wealth of those who had to pay for it.

C. That what is wealth to an individual is necessarily wealth to a nation or to mankind. This is not always the case, e.g.

(i) A mortgage does not add to the nation's wealth. It merely transfers wealth from one person to another. When a mortgage is annulled the nation is neither poorer nor richer. All that has happened is that the mortgagee has lost so much and the mortgagor gained so much.

N.B. - A confusion such as is here indicated often leads to error in calculating the gross income of a nation from the Income Tax Returns. In these returns the same body of wealth is often assessed more than once. [The consequent fallacy is sometimes called the Fallacy of Multiple Assessments].

(ii) Slaves.

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