Ricardo and the Wages Fund
DOI link for Ricardo and the Wages Fund
Ricardo and the Wages Fund book
‘The proportion which might be paid for wages’, says Ricardo, ‘is of the utmost importance in the question of profits; for it must at once be seen that profits would be high or low exactly in proportion as wages were low or high’. The only persons who make profits are the capitalists; landlords may enjoy rents, and stockholders may receive interest, but apparently neither of them is thought of as employing labour, and neither of them therefore contributes anything towards a tax on wages. In his letter to Malthus Ricardo argues that if Industry becomes more productive the capitalist is faced with the choice between increasing his capital or increasing his personal consumption. Improvements in technique increase the product, but the whole product belongs to the capitalist, and if the capitalist retains the increase of product for his own consumption, it will have no effect on wages or population.