This section is from the "The Science Of Wealth" book, by Amasa Walker.
But man modifies matter or changes its condition,—By Transportation
The merchant does not primarily create value in objects, but enhances that already existing by transporting such objects from one locality to another.
The characteristic illustration is of the most familiar kind. Cotton bought at New Orleans, in 1860, for twelve cents per pound, transported to Liverpool, would have sold, say, for fifteen cents. By his capital and skill, the merchant has added twenty-five per cent to the value or exchangeability of the cotton. He has increased the wealth of the world so much. He, therefore, has produced value. Such transactions are useful alike to the producer and to the consumer of the articles transported.
In so far as the transportation of products gives them value, it belongs to the present general division of the subject ; but its methods and agencies are so unlike those of the other forms of production, it is governed by laws so peculiar and complete in themselves, it composes so large and easily separate a department of inquiry, that it is, for the discussion of its principles, placed as a general division of the science under the title of " Exchange." To complete the sphere of production, we recognize here the share it has in creating values; but the means by which this is effected, and the impressive phenomena exhibited in the operation of this agency throughout the entire world, are set apart for special consideration.
We have thus gone through the three forms in which man modifies matter to create values, — transmutation, transformation, and transportation. The inquiry will at once occur, whether these exhaust all possible efforts in production. The answer may come out more clearly if we proceed by an illustration.
The chemist,—what is his position in the world of values? He has been ranked, by some scientific writers, among the agricultural class, because he so aids and directs the processes of Nature as to produce objects of value by changing the elementary powers of acids and alkalies into salts, &c. That is, he transmutes. It seems more accurate to say, that he belongs among producers just so far as he assists in any one of the three forms defined. He works by the side of the agriculturist, helping how best to direct the labor of the farm. Here the chemist produces value. He works by the side of the manufacturer, with lubricants and solvents, removing obstacles which no muscular strength could shake; and here, again, he produces values. He may, also, labor by the side of the merchant, making much cunning use of Nature; and here, again, he produces values, in the form of transportation. From each he receives remuneration in proportion as he renders service.
The division we have made of production into three modes seems to afford the best view attainable of the subject. It will be observed, that these are not distinct forms in which labor appears, as in so many moulds ; but that they result from an arbitrary classification of individual efforts, according to the best reason of the case. The whole authority of such a classification consists in this,—that it is more complete and definite than any other which is offered.
All these forms of productive effort may be united in a single commodity; and, indeed, there are but few products which do not contain them all. To the agriculturist has been attributed the work of transmutation. Yet, practically, he performs every function of human labor; and, directly or indirectly, uses nearly every known agency of Art or Nature. The manufacturer has the work of transformation; but he can only create values by mingling his labor with that of the agriculturist and the merchant, and thus the final product is the property of all. By what principle, and through what force, the remuneration of each is determined, will appear under the title of " Distribution." Such, then, are the general forms in which man puts forth his efforts for the satisfaction of his desires.