Commodity And Labour

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Commodity And Labour

Also, there was always a difference between the seller of a commodity and the seller of labour.

The seller of cotton or cotton goods could wait until tomorrow or the next day or even next year if the price wasn't right.

If a man selling his own labour postponed the sale, and particularly as workers were often more numerous than jobs, he most likely wouldn't eat that day.

After a time this would become uncomfortable.

So it was usually agreed that labour was sold in an inherently weaker market than goods.

Liberal economists in the neo-classical tradition, though deeply opposed to monopoly, often looked upon the trade union with a somewhat favourable eye.

It compensated for the peculiar weakness of the worker in selling his product.

It was a semi-legitimate form of monopoly.

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The Exception

This is the vital point.

In past times, when the classical ideas were taking form, the main items of commerce and the main products of agriculture and industry were food, fibres, cloth, fuel, lumber, elementary services.

The producers of these things were numerous and small, and the resulting goods were also easily substitutable.

The yarn from one mill or the cloth from one loom was much the same as that from another.

So the competitive ideal was approximated.

Applying the test, if one producer disappeared, the effect on price was not noticeable.

But even then... see: The Exception

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