Social Prosperity

figure, utilities, lines, commodities, increase, surplus, vertical and utility

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6

utility has been frequently obscured by the unequal distribution of the newly created utili ties. Leaving aside for the present all con sideration of how the wealth at the disposal of society is distributed, it is apparent that the social utilities are vastly increased by causes which do not involve any increase of costs, but rather tend to lessen them.

Social Prosperity

Figure I. represents the social utilities, the total number of pleasure-giving commodities at the disposal of society at any given time. It may be regarded as made up of an indefinite number of parallel vertical lines like AB, A'B', A"B", . . . DC, diminishing in length toward the right. This figure corresponds to the scale of diminishing utilities of Chapter and the commodity AB may be assumed to have ten units, and DC eight units, all other commodities ranging between these limits. It will be noticed that the number of commodities is measured by the length of the line BC, the intensity of the pleasure conferred by the length of the vertical lines. As additional commodi ties are consumed, BC is lengthened, and new vertical lines, shorter than DC, are erected. The scale previously given represented the consumption of an individual consumer, while this figure represents social consumption. In both instances commodities are arranged in the order of their surplus of utility over the expense to the consumer of securing possession of them.

Figure II. represents the social costs of pro ducing the commodities represented in Figure I. The line BC is identical in the two figures, standing in each case for quantity. The verti cal lines FB, F' B', . . . EC show the cost of P. 87 producing the different commodities. They do not show the expense to consumers, but the actual costs, the pains of production. In each figure the vertical lines represent the impres sions made on the feelings of human beings, in Figure I., the feeling of pleasure from con sumption ; in Figure II., the feeling of pain from production. The vertical lines of Figure II. increase in length toward the right, because the producer's cost steadily increases as a larger number of commodities are produced in a given time. Taking the day as the unit, it is suffi ciently evident that the pains of production steadily increase as the length of the day is prolonged. The goods first produced by society have the greatest utility, they have also the least cost. The first few hours of labor in the day may have scarcely any actual cost to the producer, the fifth hour becomes burdensome ; by the eighth hour, all the more intense wants being satisfied, and the fatigue becoming great, the producer doubts whether further labor will be of any advantage; and by the ninth hour, that which can be produced having compara tively little utility and entailing heavy cost, pro duction for the day ceases.

When these figures are combined as in Figure III., the resulting surplus is clearly shown. Even the earliest utilities are represented as having a certain cost, FR, though in excep tional cases that cost might disappear, in which cases F would coincide with B; and even the latest utilities are represented as having a cer tain surplus, DE, though this also might dis appear, in which case E would coincide with D. Now, the prosperity of society is indicated by the size of the area AFED. Prosperity is in creased by anything which increases this area. Errors would probably be made if it were at tempted to extend the vertical lines shown in Figure I. through the cost area of Figure III. The particular commodity of which the cost is FB might not have a surplus AF; but the line BC of Figure III., like the corresponding lines of the preceding figures, does represent all com modities, the whole area ABCD does repre sent their utility, and that part of this area which is below the slanting line FE represents their cost. The object of the discussion on which we are entering will be better understood if the relations expressed by these areas are kept constantly in mind. Prosperity is increased either by increasing the area of the quadrilateral AC, or by lessening that part of it which makes up the quadrilateral FC.

The theory of prosperity then requires an examination of the various means by which the social surplus is increased. Those means relate either to the increase of utilities or to the reduc tion of costs. So far as they relate to the increase of utilities they may be classed as fol lows : increase in variety of consumption ; sub stitution of positive utilities for such absolute utilities as had been negative or neutral ; so cializing of consumption ; cooperation of con sumers to secure greater pleasure ; the formation of harmonious complements ; and such modifica tions of consumption as shall permit the utiliza tion of new resources. The following examples will be noticed of the means by which social surplus may be increased so far as this can be done by a diminution of costs: division of labor; territorial division of labor ; organization of in dustry ; improvements in transportation ; in crease of capital ; increase in the productivity of land ; changes in the distribution of popu lation ; invention ; hereditary transmission of industrial qualities ; education and industrial training ; growth of moral qualities.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6