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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 73

Money and Wealth

Money and Wealth.

Money is not Wealth; it is only the representative of Wealth—that is to say, of the products of work and labor, or property. It is only the wheel by which property and products are circulated in a community. Money—the sovereign stamp that is—cannot be Wealth. Bastiat, the celebrated French Economist, in that most masterly work his "Dialogue on Money," says:—

I cry out against money just because everybody confounded it with riches, and that this confusion is the cause of errors and calamities without number. page 8 I cry out against it because its function in society is not understood and is very difficult to explain. I cry out against it because it jumbles all ideas, causes the means to be taken for the end, the obstacle for the cause, the alpha for the omega; because its presence in the world, though in itself beneficial, has nevertheless introduced a fatal notion, a perversion of principles, a contradictory theory which, in a multitude of forms, has impoverished mankind and deluded the earth with blood.

On this subject, hear what the historian of Political Economy in Europe, Jerome Blanqui, says:—

What immense consequences we have derived from that very simple proposition that the wealth of nations does not consist in wealth that cannot be consumed, such has gold and silver,* but in consumable wealth produced by the incessant labor of society.

Money is thus only the instrument by which necessary and useful things are exchanged, and the things themselves are the real wealth. Of that wealth we have a great deal in New Zealand, and the great bulk of it exists for the express purpose of supplying the wants of our people, and is required for consumption by them. It is only the surplus products we export. The question, therefore, is—Whit is the best way and means of exchanging that wealth among ourselves in a legitimate manner, so as to lead to its consumption?

* This proposition is clearly expressed in the following passage from Mercier de la Rivière:—"Let me be permitted to repeat here that money does not rain down into our hands, does not grow in our fields, in nature. To have money, we must buy it; and, after that purchase, one is no richer than he was before; he only receives in money, a value equal to that he has given in merchandise. An agricultural nation is very rich, people tell us, when we see much money there; people are doubtless right in saying so, but they are wrong not to see also that before acquiring that money it was equally rich, since it possessed the values with which it paid for the money; it cannot oven enjoy that wealth in money without makings it forever disappear, unless it maintains it by the reproduction of the values whose sale, or rather exchange, have procured for it money wealth; so this wealth in money is only a secondary wealth representative of a primary wealth for which it substituted."