This section is from the "The Science Of Wealth" book, by Amasa Walker.
There is a constant tendency, in the progress of society, to a decline in the rate of profits; i.e., as has just been said, of profits upon business done.
1st, From the acceleration of exchanges, or the rapidity with which capital is used; in consequence of which, the same absolute remuneration can be obtained with less charge on each transaction.
2d, From the increasing number of those who, by education and training, are qualified for independent business.
3d, From increasing facilities for intercourse by steam, on land and sea, and the consequent diffusion of intelligence in regard to prices and markets.
The rate of profit can never be arbitrarily fixed where there is free competition, any more than the wages of labor; yet in a given country, or mart of trade, there may be an actual average rate which all individuals strive to attain; say, for example, ten per cent. As a matter of fact, such individual obtains all he can. He does this, especially in places of large trade, by charging as much advance on every article as he finds it will bear. If his rate is too high, he will find his custom fall off; or, if he has customers, they will be of a hazardous class, by whose delinquencies he will lose more than he can gain by their patronage. Then, again, it is practically true, that scarce any two commodities pay the same profit; some, it may be, only two, some ten, some twenty per cent. And, further, while in the same street one man sells his goods at ten per cent, another is selling at seven and a half per cent, and is making a larger amount of net profits at that. Why is this?
First, The latter buys more shrewdly. Secondly, he carries on his business more by his own efforts, and with less expense; and, lastly, sells, as he will be likely to do, to reliable men, who most certainly discover where they can purchase to the greatest advantage.