chapter  8
4 Pages


Akin to latent commodities, are those goods whose utility is known but of which man has so far never been able to avail himself effectively because he lacks the power or apparatus to do so. To understand this condition fully, it is necessary to comprehend clearly one point: no commodity possesses utility of its own nature. Menger has accurately stated that all goods are fundamentally complementary. Their effectiveness can only be assured thru the use of other goods. Thus, food will preserve life only if thirst can be quenched with water or some other beverage. The complementary relationship of the means of production is even more intimate. Materials without tools or without workers, workers without materials and tools can accomplish nothing. They are useless. If one, none the less, says that they are useful, he can only mean that he expects the missing element to be added. Some goods we know to possess useful qualities, but they cannot be usefully employed at present as the complementary agents are lacking. They may be called commodity elements. Where the means of mining and transporting coal do not exist, it is a commodity element. Even the existence of these elements in such unusable form is of considerable economic importance, for they may attain their full estate as commodities without other adaptation than the addition of the complementary goods. The soil of the desert will always remain sterile. But the fallow virgin soil of a newly settled country will yield enormous crops, as soon as the population has increased sufficiently to cultivate it.