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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

Low Prices and Poverty

Low Prices and Poverty

are in my opinion synonymous terms. The lower the price the smaller the margin of profit, and, as a rule, after a while page 28 the smaller the transactions. To give an extreme example: China is a country of low prices; there it is a common thing to buy a slice of a pear. What margin of profit can there be on such transactions?

In this country many of us can remember when money was not obtainable for less than from 10 to 20 per cent., when fair quality unimproved land brought from to, £5 per acre, a labourer commanded 8s. to 10s. per day, and an artisan from 12s. to 15s., while farm produce was three to five times the price it is now. Then we all lived in great comfort, and made and saved money. Now that we can get all these things for nearly nothing, who can save anything? Is it any advantage to the community that the farmer should have to sell his wheat at 1s. 11d. per bushel? My belief is that with the introduction of a sound system of railway administration there would come an immediate advance in prices all round, because the alteration would enable us to make profitable use of the land, which is the source of all wealth.