Wealth: A Brief Explanation of the Causes of Economic by Edwin Cannan

By Edwin Cannan

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With division of labour, on the other hand, it becomes possible to make full use of a situation which is only good for the production of one or a few articles or services, as the Rand is good for producing gold and Jersey for producing early potatoes. The importance of this is obvious, and it is illustrated by well-known facts in the history of the world. n that condition which we call primitive" or barbarous " : restricted to a small selection of materials, they have had little opportunity of making mechanical improvements, even if they had the necessary inventive faculty.

It is useful to have a knowledge of the ways in which steam can be made to serve us; it is also useful to have a stock of steam-engines and of the things such as factories, ships, and railroads, which are necessary for their working. No one supposes that we can make numerical statements about the utility of the knowledge we use, and no one should suppose that we can do so about the stock of useful objects which we use in connection with that knowledge. If we wish to get some idea of how useful the stock is, we should endeavour t9 imagine what would be our condition to-morrow if the whole stock were swept away tohight.

Evidently there is great economy in training e~ch person for at most a very few employments. " In modem times discoveries of new means of utilizing natural forces are not to any great extent made by accident, but are for the most part the result of investigations which could only be carried on successfully by men who have-spent not years, but decades, in being trained and training themselves. This advantage is' necessarily mixed up with the second, because when once particular qualities have been acquired, it does not matter whether they have been acquired by training and practice or are the result of original" or "natural" characteristics.

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