For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

A Treatise of Political Economy

by Say, Jean-Baptiste (1850)

Key Passage

The value of labour is affected materially by its quality. The labour of a strong and intelligent person is worth much more than that of a weak and ignorant one. Again, labour is more valuable in a thriving community, where there is a lively demand for it, than in a country overloaded with population. In the United States, the daily wage of an artificer amounts in silver to three times as much value in France. Are we to infer, that silver has then but 1/3 of its value in France? The artificer is there better fed, better clothed, and better lodged; which is a convincing proof, that he is really better paid. Labour is probably one of the most fluctuating of values because at times it is in great requests, and at others is offered with the distressing importunity occasionallywitnessed in cities where industry is on the decline. Its value has, therefore, no better title to act as a measure of two values at great distances of time or place, than that of any other commodity. There is, in fact, no such thing as a measure of value, because there is nothing possessed of the indispensable requisite, invariability of value.  (p.245)


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