23) John Stuart Mill Summarizes Money, Skilled Investment, Inflation, Trade, & Class Division


“John Maynard Keynes, David Ricardo, and I, English economists all, have
just finished a side conversation. We would like to contribute a brief summary for the
benefit of moving along the discussion. Keynes has suggested, ‘The importance of money
flows from it being a link between the present and the future.’ He also says, ‘The social
object of skilled investment should be to defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance
that envelop our future. By continuing the process of inflation, a
government can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of its citizens.’
Ricardo tells us, ‘In the same manner, if any nation wasted part of its wealth or lost
part of its trade, it could not retain the same quantity of circulating medium which
it before possessed.’ In respect to class divisions, Ricardo says, ‘It is not by the
absolute quantity of produce obtained by either class that we can correctly judge the rate
of profit, rent, and wages but by the quantity of labor required to obtain that produce.’
As for my own views on the subject, I humbly ask Dr. Sase and his contemporaries to remember
that, in many eras, ignorance of the principle of population among the poor serves the interests
of the rich by provoking cutthroat competition among laborers, bidding down wages, and extending
working hours. Consequently, the poor are too exhausted to learn and are trapped in
a cycle of ignorance and exhaustion. Education is not compatible with extreme poverty. It
is impossible effectually to teach an indigent population. As a result, the poor are disqualified
from any but a low grade of intelligent labor. In summary, with every boom and bust, with
every crisis within history, tension and conflict between increasingly polarized classes heightens.
In recent centuries, we have seen smaller firms being gobbled up by larger ones during
every business cycle, as power concentrates in the hands of the few and away from the
many.”

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