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Saturday, November 23, 2013

What Is Capital

There are some persons who imagine that capital is money, and this is precisely the reason why they deny its productiveness; for, as John Ruskin and others say, dollars are not endowed with the power of reproducing themselves. But it is not true that capital and money are the same thing.
Before the discovery of the precious metals, there were capitalists in the world; and I venture to say that at that time, as now, everybody was a capitalist, to a certain extent.
What is capital, then? It is composed of three things:
First, of the materials upon which men operate, when these materials have already a value communicated by human effort, which has bestowed upon them the property of exchangeability—wool, flax leather, silk, wood, etc.
Second, instruments that are used for working—tools, machines, ships, carriages, etc.
Third, provisions that are consumed during labor—victuals, fabrics, houses, etc.
Without these things the labor of man would be unproductive and almost void; yet these very things have required much work, especially at first. This is the reason that so much value has been attached to the possession of them, and also that it is perfectly lawful to exchange and to sell them, to make a profit off them if used, to gain remuneration from them if lent. Now for my anecdotes.

Bastiat Collection Pocket Edition

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