King's College, Cambridge
Many thanks for your letter – it is a valuable addition to my museum and I shall hang it next to an extract from Sidgwick where, after lecturing Ricardo on how meaningless it is to talk of a quantity of labour, goes on cheerfully himself to talk of quantities of utility.
If one measures labour and land by heads or acres the result has a definite meaning, subject to a margin of error: the margin is wide, but it is a question of degree. On the other hand if you measure capital in tons the result is purely and simply nonsense. How many tons is, e.g., a railway tunnel?
If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been debauched by economics. Tell your gardener that a farmer employs 10 men – will he not have a pretty accurate idea of the quantities of land and labour? Now tell him that he employs 500 tons of capital, and he will think you are dotty – (not more so, however, than Sidgwick or Marshall).
7 months ago