chapter  34
3 Pages

THE STRATIFICATION OF PRICES

186 S O C I A L E C O N O M I C S sold have no utility-value for the vendor personally. If now we modify this assumption and assign a position in the supply-index to the utility-value for the vendor, we shall find a lower limit established for the price, below which it must not be allowed to fall. The vendor will have to test the price offered to him by the utility-value, of which direct personal use would always assure him. He will not be satisfied with anything less than a money-price whose use in exchange still promises a gain over and above the utility-value. For this lower limit the same motive of gain of value asserts itself in money-exchange, which we have already disclosed for natural exchange; otherwise the fundamental law of price as deduced remains unaffected. In the case of industrial products this lower limit does not find its way into practical affairs. The industrial vendor, with scarcely an exception, has no intention of retaining par t of his products for individual use; his personal conditions being what they are, he could frequently find no personal use for the products of his trade, no matter how much he might wish to do so. In any event, the quantity which he might wish to retain would always be so small as to be practically negligible. The lower limit is important even at this day for agricultural products, wherever agriculture has adhered to the old, natural-economic basis of production for personal use. In the determination also of the lower limit the intensity of the need is not alone decisive. Wealth is also to be considered. A small landowner raising Tokay wine is not so situated as to retain for his own use any quantity whatever of this precious vintage. The margin of this man's domestic economy is so narrowly drawn, tha t i t will permit no such use. There would be a loss of value, compared with tha t which the economic use of the moneyprice promises to yield. Similarly, a wealthy manufacturer turning out cheap, crude mass-products will retain none of these for his own use. For his individual consumption he demands luxurious commodities.