Introduction and Plan of the Work
1 The work of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with all the necessaries and conveniencies of life
These necessaries and conveniencies are made up of:
- the immediate produce of that work, or
- what is bought from other nations with that produce.
2 The nation will be wealthier or poorer depending on the proportion of this produce to the number of its consumers.
3 This regulated by two different circumstances:
- the quality of the work or the skill, dexterity, and judgment of its people, and
- the quantity of the work or the proportion between the number of people doing useful work and those who do not.
Whatever a nation’s soil, climate, location, or land area, its wealth depends on those two circumstances.
4 Wealth depends more on the quality of work than the quantity.
In savage nations of hunters, everyone hunts but their society stays miserably poor. In civilized nations, many people are unemployed. Yet the produce of the total work of their society is so great, that all are often abundantly supplied. The lowest worker, if frugal and industrious, may enjoy more necessaries and conveniencies than any savage.
5 The causes of the productivity and distribution of work within society are explained in Book 1.
6 The amount of work done depends on the proportion of useful and skilled labour employed to the labour not so employed.
The number of useful and productive workers then depends on:
- the amount of capital stock used to set them to work, and
- the way it is employed.
Book 2, therefore, explains:
- the nature of capital stock,
- how capital stock is gradually accumulated, and
- the amount of work the capital stock mobilizes according to the way it is used.
7 Civilized nations have followed very different plans in the direction of their nation’s labour.
But these plans have not all been favourable to wealth. Some nations have greatly encouraged agriculture, while some have encouraged commerce and industrialization. Almost no nation has treated all industries equally and impartially. Since the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe has been more favourable to industry and commerce than to agriculture. The causes of this change are explained in Book 3.
8 Those different plans were perhaps created by vested interests without any regard to their consequences on society.
They have created very different theories of economics. Some theories magnify the importance of industry. Some theories give importance to agriculture. They have influenced intellectuals, policy makers, and world leaders. Those different theories and their effects are explained in Book 4.
9 Books 1 to 4 explain the nature and components of the revenue of society that supplies its consumption.
Book 5 explains the revenue of government and:
The necessary expences of government Which of those expenses should be defrayed by general taxes Which of those expenses should be defrayed by specific taxes targetting a particular segment of society
The methods how the whole society can contribute towards defraying those expences. It includes the advantages and inconveniencies of each of those methods The reasons and causes for government debt and their effects on the real wealth of society.