Chap 3-6: The Division of Labour

Chap 3: The Opulence from the Division of Labour

  • In an uncivilized nation where labour is undivided1, everything is provided for by the natural needs of mankind.
  • Yet, when the nation is cultivated and labour divided, a more liberal provision is allotted them.
  • This is how a common day-labourer in Britain has more luxury than an Indian2 sovereign.
    • The woollen coat he wears requires many preparations.
    • The following must be employed before the labourer is clothed—
      • the wool-gatherer,
      • the dresser,
      • the spinster,
      • the dyer,
      • the weaver,
      • the tailor, and many more.
  • The tools needed for this employ still more artists—
    • the loom-maker,
    • miln-wright,
    • rope-maker,
    • the bricklayer,
    • the tree-feller,
    • the miner,
    • the smelter,
    • the forger,
    • the smith, etc.
  • Besides his dress, consider all his
    • household furniture,
    • coarse linens,
    • shoes,
    • coals dug out of the earth or brought by sea,
    • kitchen utensils and plates,
    • the people employed to provide his bread and beer,
    • the sower,
    • the brewer,
    • the reaper,
    • the baker,
    • his glass windows and the art required in preparing them.
      • Without them, our northern climate could hardly be inhabited.
  • When we examine the day-labourer’s conveniences, we find [162] that even in his easy simple manner, he cannot be accommodated without the assistance of many.
    • Yet this is nothing compared with the nobility’s luxury.
  • However, a European prince does not so far exceed a commoner, as the commoner exceeds the chief of a savage nation1.
    • It is easy to conceive how the rich can be so well provided for.
      • They can direct so many hands to serve their purposes.
      • They are supported by the peasant’s industry.
    • In a savage nation, everyone enjoys the whole fruit of his own labour2, yet their indigence is greater.
  • It is the division of labour which increases a country’s opulence.
  • A civilized society has a division of labour. [163]
    • But there is no equal division, for there are many who do not work at all1.
  • The division of opulence is not according to the work.
    • The merchant’s opulence is greater than that of all his clerks, though he works less2.
      • His clerks have six times more than an equal number of artisans, who are more employed3.
        • The artisan who works comfortably indoors has far more opulence than the poor labourer who trudges up and down without intermission.
          • Thus, he who bears society’s burden has the fewest advantages.

Chap. 4: How the Division of Labour multiplies Productivity

  • We shall next show how this division of labour multiplies productivity, or, which is the same thing, how opulence arises from it.
  • Let us observe the effect of the division of labour in some manufactures.
    • If all the parts of a pin were made by one man, it would take him a whole year to make one pin.
      • He would:
        • dig the ore,
        • smelt it, and
        • split the wire.
    • Therefore, this pin must be sold at the expense of his maintenance for that time.
      • It would cost at least be six pounds for a pin.
  • If the labour is so far divided that the wire is ready-made, he will not make above 20 per day.
    • If wages were ten pence, the pin would be a half-penny4.
  • The pin-maker divides the labour among many persons.
    • The cutting, pointing, heading, and gilding are all separate professions.
    • Two or three are employed in making the head.
    • One or two in putting it on, to the putting [164] them in the paper, etc, being 18 in all.
  • By this division every one can make 2,000 a day very easily.
  • The same is the case in the linen and woollen manufactures.
  • However, some arts will not admit of this division.
    • Therefore they cannot keep pace with other manufactures and arts.
  • Examples are farming and grazing.
    • This is entirely owing to the seasons.
    • In each season, a man can only be for a short time employed in any one operation.
  • In countries where the seasons do not make such alterations it is otherwise.
    • In France the corn is better and cheaper than in England.
  • But our toys, which have no dependence on the climate, and in which labour can be divided, are far superior to those of France.

 

  • When labour is thus divided, and so much done by one man in proportion, the surplus above their maintenance is considerable.
    • Each person can exchange his surplus for a fourth5 of what he could have done alone.
  • [165] Through this:
    • the commodity becomes far cheaper, and
    • the labour becomes dearer.
  • The price of labour does not determine society’s opulence.
    • Society’s opulence is only determined by it when a little labour can procure abundance.
  • A rich nation, when its manufactures are greatly improved, may have an advantage over a poor one by underselling it.
    • The cotton and other commodities from China would undersell any made with us, if it were not for:
      • the long carriage, and
      • other taxes laid on them1.
  • We must not judge of the dearness of labour by the money or coin paid for it2.
    • One penny in some places will buy as much as 18 pence in others.
    • In Mughal India, a day’s wages are only 2 pence.
      • Labour there is better rewarded than in some of our sugar islands, where men are almost starving with 4 or 5 shillings a day.
  • Therefore, coin cannot be a proper estimate.
    • Human labour be employed to multiply commodities and metal money.
    • But the chance of success is not equal.
  • By proper cultivation, a farmer can guarantee an increase.
    • But the miner may work again and again without success.
  • Commodities must therefore multiply in greater proportion than gold and silver.

 

  • But again, the amount of work done by the division of labour is much increased by the three [166] factors:
    1. The increase of dexterity
      • When any kind of labour is reduced to a simple operation, a frequency of action insensibly fits men to a dexterity in accomplishing it.
        • A country smith not accustomed to make nails will work very hard for 300 very bad nails in a day.
        • But a boy used to it will easily make 2,000 nails of better quality.
      • Yet the improvement of dexterity in this very complex manufacture can never be equal to that in others.
        • A nail-maker changes postures, blows the bellows, changes tools, etc.
        • Therefore, the quantity produced cannot be so great as in manufactures of pins and buttons, where the work is reduced to simple operations.
    2. The saving of time lost in passing from one species of labour to another.
      • There is always some time lost in passing from one kind of labour to another, even when they are pretty much connected.
        • When a person has been reading he must rest a little before he begins to write.
      • This is still more the case with the country weaver, who is has a little farm.
        • He must saunter a little when he goes from one to the other.
      • This in general is the case with the country labourers.
      • They are always the greatest saunterers.
      • The country employments of sowing, reaping, threshing being so different,
      • They naturally acquire a habit of indolence, and are seldom very dexterous.
      • By fixing every man to his own operation, [167] and preventing the shifting from one piece of labour to another, the quantity of work must be greatly increased.
    3. The invention of machinery
      • Two men and three horses will do more in a day with the plough than 20 men without it.
      • The miller and his servant will do more with the water miln than a dozen with the hand miln, though it, too, is a machine.
      • The division of labour caused the invention of machines.
      • If a man’s business in life is the performance of two or three things, the bent of his mind will be to find out the cleverest way of doing it.
      • But when the force of his mind is divided it cannot be expected that he should be so successful.
      • We have not, nor cannot have, any complete history of the invention of machines, because most of them:
        • are initially imperfect, and
        • receive gradual improvements from those who use them.
      • It was probably a farmer who made the original plough, though the improvements might be owing to some other.
      • Some miserable slave who had perhaps been employed for a long time in grinding corn between two stones, probably first found out the method of supporting the upper stone by a spindle.
      • A miln-wright perhaps found out the way of turning the spindle with the hand.
        • But a philosopher contrived that the outer wheel should go by water.
        • A philosopher’s business is to do nothing, but observe everything.
          [168]
      • They must have extensive views of things, who, as in this case, bring in the assistance of new powers not formerly applied.
      • Whether he was an artisan, or whatever he was who first executed this, he must have been a philosopher.
      • Steam engines, wind and water-milns were the invention of philosophers.
        • Their dexterity too is increased by a division of labour.
      • They are all divide according to the different branches:
        • mechanical
        • moral
        • political
        • chemical philosophers.

Chap 5: What Causes the Division of Labour

  • The division of labour cannot be the effect of human prudence.
  • The Sesostris made a law that every man should follow the employment of his father.
    • But this :
      • is not suitable to the dispositions of human nature and
      • can never long take place.
  • Everyone is fond of being a gentleman, whatever his father’s employment.
    • The strongest and those above the weak in society must have as many under as to defend their station.
    • From necessary causes, there must be as many in the lower stations as needed [169].
      • There must be as many up as down.
      • No division can be overstretched1.
  • But this does not cause the division of labour.
  • It flows from a direct propensity in human nature for one man to barter with another.
    • This is common to all men.
    • It is not present in any other animal.
      • Nobody ever saw a dog exchange a bone with his companion for another.
      • Two greyhounds running after a hare, seem to have an agreement between themselves.
      • But this is just a concurrence of the same passions.
      • If an animal intends to gain anything from man, it is by its fondness and kindness.
        • In the same way, man works on his fellows’ self love, by setting before them a sufficient temptation to get what he wants.
        • The language of this disposition is: ‘Give me what I want, and you shall have what you want.’
  • It is not from benevolence, as the dogs, but from self love that man expects anything.
    • The brewer and the baker do not serve us from benevolence, but from self love.
    • Only a beggar depends on benevolence.
      • Even they would die in a week if they totally depended on it.

 

  • If anyone, in a nation of hunters, can make bows and arrows better than his neighbours, he will at first make presents of them.
    • In return, he will get presents of their game.
    • This is caused by the disposition to barter and exchange the surplus of one’s labour for that of other people.
    • By continuing this practice, he will live better than before [170].
    • He will have no occasion to provide for himself, as the surplus of his own labour does it more effectually.
  • This disposition to barter is not founded on different genius and talents.
    • It is doubtful if there be any such difference at all, at least it is far less than we are aware of.
  • Genius is more the effect of the division of labour than the latter is of it.
    • There is no difference between a porter and a philosopher in the first five years of their life.
    • When they come to be employed in different occupations, their views widen and differ.
  • There is no need for such different endowments since everyone has this natural disposition to truck and barter, by which he provides for himself.
    • Accordingly, there is always the greatest uniformity of character among savages.
  • In other animals of the same species, we find a much greater difference than between the philosopher and porter, antecedent to custom.
    • The mastiff and spaniel have quite different powers.
    • But they cannot bring their productions into the common stock and exchange.
      • Therefore, their different talents are useless [171].
  • It is quite otherwise with humans.
    • They can exchange their several productions according to their quantity or quality.
    • The philosopher and the porter are advantageous to each other.
    • The porter is useful in carrying burdens for the philosopher.
    • In turn, the porter burns his coals cheaper by the philosopher’s invention of the fire machine.
  • Thus, genius is not the foundation of this disposition to barter which is the cause of the division of labour.
    • Its real foundation is the principle to persuade.
      • It so much prevails in human nature.
      • When any arguments are offered to persuade, it is always expected that they should have their proper effect.
  • A person who asserts anything false about the moon would still feel a kind of uneasiness in being contradicted.
    • He would be very glad if the person he is trying to persuade has the same way of thinking as himself.
  • We should then mainly cultivate the power of persuasion.
    • Indeed, we do so without intending it.
  • Since a whole life is spent in the exercise of it, a ready method of bargaining with each other must be attained.
    • No animal can do this but by gaining the favour of those whom they would persuade.
  • Sometimes, animals seem to act in concert.
    • But there never was a bargain among them.
  • When monkeys rob a garden, they throw the fruit from one to another, until they deposit it in the hoard.
    • But there is always a scramble about the division of the booty.
    • Usually some of them are killed.

Chap 6: THE DIVISION OF LABOUR MUST BE PROPORTIONAl TO THE EXTENT OF COMMERCE

  • The division of labour must always be proportioned to the extent of commerce1.
    • If 10 people only want a certain commodity, the manufacture of it will never be so divided as if a thousand wanted it.
  • The division of labour always becomes more  perfect by the easy method of transportation in a country.
    • The progress of commerce must be stopped if the road:
      • is infested with robbers
      • is deep and transportation is not easy.
        • Since the mending of roads in England 40 or 50 years ago, its opulence has increased extremely.
    • Water carriage is another convenience.
      • Through it, 300 tons can be transported at the expense of:
        • the tear and wear of the vessel, and
        • the wages of five or six men.
      • It can be done in a shorter time than by 100 wagons which will take six horses and a man each2.
  • Thus, the division of labour is the great cause of the increase of public opulence.
    • The public opulence is always proportioned to the people’s industry3 and not to the amount of gold and silver, as is foolishly imagined.
    • The people’s industry is always proportioned to the division of labour.
  • We next consider:
    1. What circumstances regulate the price of commodities
    2. F[173] Money in two different views, first as the measure of value, and then as the instrument of commerce
    3. The history of commerce
      1. We shall notice the causes of the slow progress of opulence in ancient and modern times.
      2. These causes are affect either agriculture or arts and manufactures
    4. The effects of a commercial spirit, on the government, temper, and manners of a people, whether good or bad, and the proper remedies.

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