Adam Smith's Simplified Wealth of Nations, Book 4, Chapter 9b: the unproductive class

Chapter 9b: The unproductive class

14 The unproductive class is composed of merchants, artificers, and manufacturers.

  • These two furnish the unproductive class with:
  • The proprietors and cultivators finally pay:
  • Those workers and their employers are the servants of the proprietors and cultivators.
  • Both are equally maintained at the expence of the same masters.
  • The labour of both is equally unproductive.

    15 The unproductive class is greatly useful to the proprietor class and the cultivator class.

  • They can buy them with their produce cheaper than if they made those goods themselves or imported them.
  • Through the unproductive class, the cultivators can focus on cultivating instead of manufacturing or trading.
  • The industry of merchants, artificers, and manufacturers contributes indirectly to increase the produce of the land.
  • 16 It can never be the interest of the proprietors and cultivators to restrain or discourage the industry of merchants, artificers, and manufacturers.

    17It can never be the interest of the unproductive class to oppress the other two classes.
    1. Cultivators and
    2. Proprietors
  • The greater this surplus, the greater the maintenance and employment of the unproductive class
  • The establishment of perfect justice, liberty, and equality is the very simple secret which most effectively secures the greatest prosperity to all three classes
  • 18 Holland and Hamburgh are mercantile states

    20 It can never be the interest of those landed nations to distress the industry of such mercantile states by imposing high duties.

    The most effective expedient, on the contrary, is to allow the most perfect freedom of trade to all mercantile nations.

    21 This perfect freedom of trade is even the most effectual expedient for:

    22 In time, the continual increase of the surplus produce of their land would create more capital than could be employed with ordinary profit.

  • They might immediately be able to work as cheap as the artificers and manufacturers of mercantile states, even though with less skill
  • Local manufacturers might be able to sell their goods at home as cheap as the goods of mercantile states.
  • The gradual improvements of art and skill would increase the cheapness of the manufactures of those landed nations.
  • In due time, those manufactures will extend their sale to foreign markets
  • They will gradually jostle out many of the manufacturers of mercantile nations
  • 23In due time, this continual increase of the produce of those landed nations would create more capital than could be employed in agriculture or in manufactures with the ordinary rate of profit.

    Next: Chapter 9c: Errors of the Physiocrats