Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone is not enough to produce widely shared prosperity.
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Hand to Mouth


Louis Post: Outlines of Louis F. Post's Lectures, with Illustrative Notes and Charts (1894)

Note 69: Demand for consumption is satisfied not from hoards of accumulated wealth, but from the stream of current production. Broadly speaking there can be no accumulation of wealth in the sense of saving up wealth from generation to generation. Imagine a man's satisfying his demand for eggs from the accumulated stores of his ancestors! Yet eggs do not differ in this respect from other forms of wealth, except that some other forms will keep a little longer, and some not so long.

The notion that a saving instinct must be aroused before the great and more lasting forms of wealth can be brought forth is a mistake. Houses and locomotives, for example, are built not because of any desire to accumulate wealth, but because we need houses to live in and locomotives to transport us and our goods. It is not the saving, but the serving, instinct that induces the production of these things; the same instinct that induces the production of a loaf of bread.

Artificial things do not save. No sooner are the processes of production from land complete than the products are on their way back to the land. If man does not return them by means of consumption, then through decay they return themselves. Mankind as a whole lives literally from hand to mouth. What is demanded for consumption in the present must be produced by the labor of the present. From current production, and from that alone, can current consumption be satisfied.

"Accumulated wealth" is, in fact, not wealth at all in any great degree. It is merely titles to wealth yet to be produced. A share in a mining company, for example, is but a certificate that the owner is legally entitled to a proportion of the wealth to be produced in the future from a certain mine.

Titles to future wealth may be both morally and legally valid. This is so when they represent past labor or its products loaned in free contract for future labor or its products; for example, a contract for the delivery of goods of any kind today to be paid for next week or next month, or next year, or in ten years, or later.

They may be legally but not morally valid. This is so when they represent the product of a franchise (whether paid for in labor or not) to exact tribute from future labor; for example, a franchise to confiscate a man's labor through ownership of his body, as in slavery, or a franchise to confiscate the products of labor in general through ownership of land.

Or they may be both legally and morally invalid, as when they are obtained by illegal force or fraud from the rightful owner. ... read the book



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Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone hasn't yet led to a society in which all can prosper