This section is from the "The Science Of Wealth" book, by Amasa Walker.
It is that application of the industrial faculties to the agencies of matter which will bring out, easiest and fullest, the satisfaction of those desires which are healthful and harmonious in the nature of man.
Does this imply the satisfaction of the greatest amount of desires, if, indeed, they can be thus spoken of in aggregation? Not necessarily, by the terms of our definition; yet practically we believe it is true, that, taking in all of life and the whole of society, a greater satisfaction will be obtained by ministering to those desires which are natural and reasonable, than by catering to artificial tastes, depraved appetites, and violent passions.
Does it imply the greatest possible creation of values?
Again we say, not necessarily; and yet it is undoubtedly true,that there is no surer way of securing the best satisfaction of the greatest amount of desires, than by striving for the accumulation of the largest possible wealth. There may be, will certainly be, a portion of such wealth that does not tend to improve its possessor, either as to character or condition; there will be a portion that will not receive its best application, either morally or economically, just as the nourishing rain falls not less on the streams that do not need it, and on the stony ground that will not profit by it, than upon the grass and the grains that are thirsty for it, and will repay it in a plentiful harvest. But this is the way of earth. If human laws and institutions do not interfere to prevent, the natural order of things will be sure to bring out the best physical condition of mankind, through the greatest creation of values.
It will be observed, that this definition of the economic good requires an equitable distribution of wealth, since the desires of one can be but poorly satisfied out of the possessions of another. We should therefore regard with more complacency a certain amount of values, fairly divided, than a much greater amount heaped in wasteful and unjust aggregations, or bestowed on those that can neither employ nor enjoy it. But this, again, we leave to the operation of natural laws, when undisturbed by legislation and prescription, confident that a better state of things will result than can be brought about by man's wisdom.
To sum up, then: Although much may be produced that does not satisfy any wholesome or lawful desire of man's being; although much inequality and injustice may take place in distribution, which shall so far neutralize the bounty of nature, and the industry of man; and although the greatest wealth is not logically coincident with the highest economic good, — we can yet accept the former as the end and aim of our science, satisfied it is in this shape that the latter is to come to us.