Home >> Cyclopedia Of Knowledge >> Minal to Or Rever Sion Life >> Money_P1

Money

value, exchange, corn, measure, commodities, quantity, bricks and barter

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 | Next

MONEY is the medium of exchange by which the value of commodities is es timated, and is at once the representative and equivalent of such value.

Barter is naturally the first form in which any commerce is carried on. A man having produced or obtained more of any article than he requires for his own use, exchanges a part of it for some other ar ticle which he desires to possess. But this simple form of exchange is adapted to a rude state of society only, where the ob jects of exchange are not numerous, and where their value has not been ascer tained with precision. As soon as the re lations of civilized life are established in a community, some medium of exchange becomes necessary. Objects of every va riety are bought and sold, the production of which requires various amounts of la bour ; these at different times are relatively abundant or scarce ; labour is bargained for as well as its products : and at length the exchangeable value of things, in rela Son to each other, becomes defined and needs some common standard or measure, by which it may be expressed and known. It is not sufficient to know that a given quantity of corn will exchange for a given quantity of a man's labour, for their rela tive value is not always the same ; but if a standard be established by which each can be measured, their relative value can always be ascertained as well as their positive value, independently of each other.

As a measure of value only money is thus a most important auxiliary of com merce. One commodity from its nature must be measured by its weight, another by its length, a third by its cubic con tents, others by their number. The diver sity of their nature, therefore, makes it impossible to apply one description of measure to their several quantities ; but the value of each may be measured by one standard common to all. Until such a standard has been agreed upon, the diffi culties of any extensive commerce are incalculable. One man may have nothing but corn to offer for other commodities, the owners of which may not have ascer tained the quantity of corn which would be an equivalent for their respective goods. To effect an exchange these parties would either have to guess what quantity of each kind of goods might justly be exchanged for one another, or would be guided by their own experience in their particular trades. Whenever they wanted a new com modity their experience would fail them, and they must guess once more. But

with money all becomes easy ; each man affixes a price to his own commodities, and even if barter should continue to be the form in which exchanges are effected, every bargain could be made with the utmost simplicity : for commodities of every description would have a denomin ation of value affixed to them, common to all and understood by every body.

But however great may be the import ance of money as a measure of value in facilitating the exchange of commodities, it is infinitely more important in another character. In order to exchange his goods it is not sufficient that a man should be able to measure their value, but he must also be able to find others who, having a different description of goods to offer as an equivalent, are willing to accept his goods in exchange, in such quantities as he wishes to dispose of. Not to enlarge upon the obvious difficulties of barter:— suppose one man to have nothing but corn to sell, and another nothing but bricks : how can any exchange be effected unless each should happen to require the other's goods ? But presuming that this is actu ally the case, is it probable that each will require as much of the other as will be an exact equivalent ; or in other words, as much as represents an equal amount of labour? Such a coincidence might occur once or twice, but it is not conceivable that it should occur often. Corn is con sumed annually : but bricks once pro duced endure for many years ; and their interchange between two persons in equal proportions, for any length of time, would therefore be extremely Inconvenient. In order to dispose of his corn, the producer might buy the bricks and dispose of them to others; but in that case, in addition to the business of growing corn he must be come a•seller of bricks. But human la bour has a natural tendency to a division of employments ; and as society ad vances in wealth and in the arts of life, men confine themselves more and more to distinct occupations, instead of practising many at the same time. [DI VISION OP EMPLOYMENTS.] With this tendency a system of simple barter is ob viously inconsistent; as by the one, a man is led to apply the whole of his la bour to one business : by the other, he is drawn into many. By the one he has only to produce and sell : by the other he must also buy what he does not want himself, and become a trader.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 | Next