Adam Smith's Simplified Wealth of Nations, Book 1, Chapter 10h, Part 2: Profit and wage inequality from policy; Restrictions on Immigration -- Poor Laws

Chapter 10h, Part 2: Profit and wage inequality from policy: Restrictions on Immigration -- Poor Laws

  1. 97Thirdly, the policy of Europe obstructs the free circulation of labour and stock from employment to employment and from place to place.

98 The statute of apprenticeship obstructs the free circulation of labour from one employment to another, even in the same place.

99 Often, one manufacture gives high wages while another gives only bare subsistence.  

100 Whatever obstructs the free circulation of labour from one employment to another obstructs the free circulation of stock because stock depends very much on the labour it employs.

  101  The obstruction of the corporation laws to the free circulation of labour is common in Europe.  

Unjust Immigration Laws

102 After the destruction of monasteries, the poor were deprived of the charity of those religious houses 103 This statute imposed on every parish the need to provide for their own poor. 104 Some frauds were committed through this statute 105  But parish officers were not always honest. 106 According to Doctor Burn, this new settlement by the poor is very seldom obtained. 107 This statute rendered it impracticable for a poor man to gain a new settlement by 40 days inhabitancy. 108 The first two ways require the public deed of the whole parish. 109 No married man can gain any settlement in the last two ways. 110 No independent worker can likely gain new settlement by apprenticeship or by service. 111 Certificates were invented to circulate labour prevented by those statutes. 112 Doctor Burn judiciously explains the effect of those statutes on the free circulation of labour.

113The good reasons for requiring certificates are:

114 The moral seems that certificates should always be required by a poor man's new parish and be very seldom granted by his old parish.

115 Doctor Burns is the very intelligent author of the History of the Poor Laws.

116 The certificate is not proof of good behaviour, only that the person belongs to his old parish [*  a judicial writ commanding a person to perform a public or statutory duty] 117 The obstruction of the law of settlements by certificates for the labouring poor is probably the cause of the very unequal price of labour in England in places near each other.   118 Removing a man who has committed no misdemeanour from the parish where he chooses to reside, is a violation of natural liberty and justice.   119 The ancient practice of setting wages by laws have now gone entirely into disuse. 120 Doctor Burns says:  

Wage Control

121 Particular acts of parliament, however, still attempt to regulate wages.   17462_3_vmc
122 In ancient times, it was usual to attempt to regulate the profits of merchants by rating prices.   123 The proportion between wages and profit in different employments is not much affected by the advancing, stationary, or declining state of the society.
Next: Chapter 11a: Rent of Land
Words: 2,090