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slackened in the other, compelling dealers in the one case to lower prices, and permitting them to raise prices in the other. Still, however, it is always competition, and competition alone, which determines price, and always it is the estimate formed of supply and demand by some particular dealer or dealers which regulates competition. In this limited sense it may not untruly be said that perspective supply and demand determine competition.
After all, then, perhaps, it may seem that the distinction between the orthodox faith and the suggested heresy is a distinction without much difference. For price to depend upon competition, and competition upon prospective supply and demand, may appear to be much the same thing as for price itself to depend upon prospective supply and demand. The only defect in the received theory may thus appear to be the want of a single word, and the only correction it requires the substitution of "estimated” or “ prospective," for "actual” or “existing,” supply and demand. But, in the first place, with either of these adjectives prefixed, the substantives would entirely change their original signification, and would require to be newly defined in order to have any meaning at all. Hitherto we have understood by supply the quantity offered for sale at a certain price, and by demand the quantity which customers are ready to buy at that price. But to prospective supply, consisting partly of goods which neither are yet, nor, perhaps, ever may be, in the market, no set-up price can as yet be affixed. Prospective supply can therefore signify nothing more distinct than the whole quantity expected to be brought to market within a definite period, while prospective demand
. must similarly signify the several quantities which customers might be likely to buy at all imaginable prices within the same period. Secondly, even with the help of these definitions, the received axioms regarding price will be found to be, if possible, still more inapplicable to prospective than they have already been shown to be to actual supply and demand. Excess of prospective supply over prospective demand, or the contrary, would be mere empty phrases. The supply of goods could not be expected to become greater than people might be expected to buy if they could get them cheap enough; nor would any notion of demand be conveyed to the mind by saying that people would be willing to buy more goods than were likely to be brought to market, without adding how much they would be prepared to pay for them. Equation of prospective supply and demand would be, if possible, a still more unintelligible expression
for prospective demand is not one quantity only, but many different quantities, and quantities differing from each other cannot all be equal to any other quantity. Thirdly, the extreme narrowness of
' the sense in which alone it can be said that prospective supply and demand regulate competition, completely destroys the value of the
proposition as a general rule. The same probabilities of supply and demand may affect competition very differently at different times. The state and prospects of the market being in other respects the same, competition will be more or less keen, according as the dealers, or some of them, are more or less experienced, more or less shrewd, or more or less needy. The estimates of the future formed by individual dealers will thus depend partly on individual necessity and partly on individual discretion ; and for discretion, or anything dependent on it, to be subject to law or rule, is not in the nature of things. But if prospective supply and demand do not affect competition in an uniform manner, clearly in no sense can they determine price-clearly in no sense can price depend on them.
The real influence of supply and demand is of a very inferior character, and the whole truth on the subject may be summed up in a few brief, and rather negative than positive propositions. Actual or present supply and demand do not affect price at all, except in so far as they form part of prospective supply and demand, or except when their limits and those of the latter coincide, as they do when there is no apparent chance of any increase of present supply and demand. Nor do even prospective supply and demand affect price, except indirectly, and by their influence on competition, which, and which alone, is the immediate arbiter of price. Neither is competition affected by them in any uniform or regular manner. Competition does indeed always depend upon the estimate of probable supply and demand formed by those dealers who rate lowest the probable proportion of demand to supply, or who from any other cause are most disposed to sell cheaply; but the estimate of these dealers need not be always the same in the same circumstances, for the same probabilities of supply and demand may be very differently estimated at different times or by different people, and the same estimates may affect different dealers differently. Thus it is, and in no more definite manner, that wherever or whenever competition exists, prospective supply and demand affect the competition which determines price. Where competition does not exist, where a monopoly of trade is exercised by a single dealer or by a combination of dealers, the case is no doubt materially altered. Prospective supply and demand then become of almost paramount authority, and may be not improperly said directly to influence and even to determine price; for the price at which a monopolist sells may always be presumed to be the highest at which, judging from his estimate of the probabilities of supply and demand, he expects to be able to sell either the whole of his goods, or as much as he has resolved to sell. Provided, then, that different monopolists at different times estimate these probabilities alike, they will no doubt charge the same prices.
These conclusions appear to me to contain the whole truth con
cerning price: “conclusions inconclusive that I own,” as Mr. Henry Taylor does of the results of much more interesting speculations, “ but yet methinks,” to continue the quotation, “not vain, not nothing worth.” Vague, loose, they must be confessed to be ; ascertaining nothing, prescribing nothing, leaving almost everything to be settled by individual judgment or caprice ; yet perhaps not on that account the less valuable. If little can be learnt from them, much
may be unlearned. It is no small gain to have perceived that on the subject of which they treat, little can be known beyond what they teach. Nine-tenths of the confusion and obscurity in which the doctrine of price has hitherto been involved has arisen from searching after the unsearchable, from seeking for some invariable rule for inevitable variations, from straining after precision where to be precise is necessarily to be wrong. Supply and demand are commonly spoken of as if they together formed some nicelyfitting, well-balanced, self-adjusting piece of machinery, whose component parts could not alter their mutual relations without "evolving, as the product of every change, a price exactly corresponding with that particular change. Price, and more especially the price of labour, is scarcely ever mentioned without provoking a reference to the "inexorable,” the “immutable,” the “eternal” laws by which it is governed; to laws which, according to my friend Professor Fawcett, are “as certain in their operation as those which control physical nature.” It is no small gain to have discovered that no such despotic laws do or can exist; that, inasmuch as the sole function of scientific law is to predict the invariable recurrence of the same effects from the same causes, and as there can be no invariability--where, as in the case of price, one of the most efficient causes is that ever-changing chameleon, human character or disposition-price cannot possibly be subjected to law. The progress of inquiry need no longer be barred by this legal bugbear. Whether it be possible to raise the price of labour artificially, and irrespectively of supply and demand, is no doubt a problem not less difficult than momentous, but at least we need no longer be deterred from approaching it by the belief of its being also an unlawful mystery.
WILLIAM T. THORNTON.
THE ARMY : BY A (LATE) COMMON SOLDIER. For some years the state of the Army has caused considerable uneasiness to the authorities. It is notorious that at the present time recruits cannot be induced to join; and the want of men is seriously felt. Not very long ago the murder of officers and noncommissioned officers became so frequent, as to cause something like a panic in the public mind: it ceased, and the excitement as quickly subsided, under the assurance that the outbreak was spasmodic, and not the natural result of a chronic disaffection in the ranks. In a little work of mine, published in 1860, I warned the public against the probability of such an outbreak of crime occurring at any moment, and entered fully into the causes which were likely to lead to it. I also discussed the question of recruiting-taking a view of it which has been more than supported by events, and which, if the proper reforms are not carried out in time, will most certainly be fully confirmed. Notwithstanding the urgent appeals of the Army and Nacy Gazette, and of the press generally, made to the authorities, either to refute the statements if false, or to remedy the evils which I pointed out, the book was quietly shelved, and nothing was done. It was proposed as a precautionary measure, that, for the future, no ammunition should be served out to the soldiers in barracks; and to the best of my belief this was the only remedy suggested. As it was favourably received, even in quarters where it should not even have got a hearing, I must say a few words upon it. If we organise a protective force, on which our national honour and the safety of our constitution depend, we must repose confidence in it. If it be unworthy of that confidence, it becomes, by a plain logical sequence, dangerous to our liberties and to our peace. If we acknowledge the necessity of servants, we do violence to our understanding if we deny them the appurtenances of their various callings, yet maintain them as an institution.
The ammunition of the soldier must be at the soldier's command. Apart from the moral injury which would be the result of withholding it, the question of such contingencies as a surprise, or a sudden descent upon a garrison, is at all times to be considered and calculated for; not by doling out the minimum of ball with the
(1) For reasons easily divined the name of the writer of this paper is withheld; but the Editor testifies to the important fact that the writer, an acquaintance of his own, was formerly a common soldier, and that his statements, therefore, deserve that attention which bonú fide complaint may always claim.
(2) “ Army Misrule.” By a Common Soldier.
minimum of confidence, but rather by a lavish expenditure of both. If I discover that he whom I have hired as a protector would use the weapons with which I have provided bim for my defence to take away my life, I shall surely not rest contented with merely disarming him, while I still retain him in my service, nor be so foolhardy as to suppose that in the event of danger I have but to restore the weapon to his hand, and him to my confidence, in order to secure his faithfulness and love. Yet this is, practically, the line of action which was proposed.
It is advisable that the public mind should be disabused of the idea that there is anything mysterious or unaccountable in the nature or outbreak of these crimes; they have their cause. It is hard to be obliged to accept this assertion—the more so since no cause has been discovered by the public; and the theory of a moral epidemic is more flattering to the nation's pride. It is less flattering, however, than dangerous; and the sooner, therefore, we accept the more unpleasant view of the question, and entertain the convictions which it suggests, the more certain shall we be of an advance in the right direction.
The soldier shoots his officers because in them he finds a practical illustration of abuse of power, which is daily manifested at his expense, and which is all the more galling because it is intangible, and will not bear narration; for, stripped of concurrent circumstances, sarcasms of look and manner, and of the small annoyances which lead up and lend a point to it, it becomes frivolous in the cars of the public. Smarting under an injustice which is hydra-headed, but withal so edged in as to be inaccessible—so circumscribed by forms and routine—so bound up beyond unravelling in the meshes of redtape, as to hold out no hope of redress, save by violence—no certainty of escape, save by the gallows—infatuated men rush of necessity into crime. The gordian-knot is severed by the bullet; and the soldier yields up to justice, as a burden for him too heavy to be borne, that life which has become in his estimation valueless; and the law is invoked to destroy what the nation has been at cost to obtain, at cost to train, and at cost to maintain.
The murder of officers, however horrible it may be, is no mystery. The soldier cannot, from the nature of the service, reach the IlorseGuards; nor can he retaliate upon a community which forms courtsmartial, sits upon him, judges him, frames the rules which fetter almost his thoughts (certainly his tongue), and whose sentences upon him pass unquestioned by, because unknown to, the outer world. If he strives to eliminate from the system (as far as his unschooled understanding will allow) the discordant elements which strike at his peace, and which, combined, are too powerful to be coped with single-handed, since they but go to make up the intangible something called authority;