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The Making of Goods

materials, commodities, increase, environment, supply and mans

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THE MAKING OF GOODS In the present chapter we pass from a con sideration of man's surroundings to that of his activities. Broadly speaking, all human activ ity may be described as the increasing of the number, or the improving of the useful qualities, of goods. Every object which ministers to a human desire is a good, in the economic sense. There are many such things in nature, and in primitive stages of civilization these free goods are accepted as adequate satisfaction of the desires of men, with little attempt to increase their number or to improve their useful qualities. But as man becomes more at home in his en vironment, he discovers that increase and im provement are possible.

Fruit and nuts, and the flesh and skin of ani mals, are easily appropriated, and this appropri ation is among the earliest steps in the making of goods. It must be understood that the mak 6o ing of goods does not involve the creation of the material substance of the commodities. In that sense no goods are made by the persons to whom they are attributed. What is done is to give to the commodity a form which especially fits it to supply some want, and, after patient observation of the natural processes involved in producing the materials from which the new commodity has been made, to modify those pro cesses in such a way as to increase the quantity of available materials.

No sooner is it clearly understood that certain things have the power of satisfying continually recurring wants, than it becomes apparent that it would be desirable to secure a regularly re curring supply of those things. The objects which are consciously or instinctively aimed at in the making of goods are : the increase in the number of commodities of which the utility is recognized, increased regularity in the supply of those commodities, increase in the utility (or want-satisfying power) of commodities. In ac complishing the third object, combinations of materials are made which result in commodities entirely unlike any objectsjound in nature, but nevertheless capable of satisfying entirely natu ral wants. Houses are constructed which serve

the purpose of shelter better than the caves of the hillsides or the tents of skins. Food is made from cultivated grains which supplements the fruits, nuts, and flesh of animals, and is a phys iological gain. Even the chase is made more effective by the invention of firearms. The substitution of goods that are made for goods that are found, is a characteristic of economic progress, the goal of which is to place man in a position to bring together, where he will, the elementary materials of production, in order that his residence may be determined by social or msthetic considerations and not, as in earlier stages, by stern physical necessities. Men may build their homes, for example, on beautiful sites, and are not restricted to unpleasant spots selected because there are springs near by, or because there are woods to break the force of the wind.

Two great movements are in progress con temporaneously, from the moment when this making of goods begins : viz., the adaptation of man's activity to his environment, and the gradual modification of that environment itself, -- or as it has recently been expressed the creation of a new environment within and from the materials of the old. When the growth is complete, the new will cast off the shell of the old, but will give place later to still newer surround ings. In illustration of the first of these two movements, the adaptation of man's activity to his environment, attention may be called to cer tain peculiarities in the operation of the physi cal forces enumerated in the preceding chap ter. Some of these forces are periodic in action, others are localized, in such a manner that they are available only at certain places on the earth's surface. There is always present, for example, a certain amount of light and heat, but the direct rays of the sun are periodic, day alternat ing with night and the heat of summer with the lower temperature of winter.

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