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Ah, wealth! From the Great Depression era, we have piece which defines wealth in clearly, but from a Republican point of view (if you ask me). Of course, I made the "serious mistake" everyone seems to make, according to the text, and associate wealth with the rich. On a related topic, considering 25% of the population was out of work during the Depression, somewhere I read that there were plenty of legal secretarial positions which went unfilled during at that time; the minimum requirements were usually 140 words per minute steongraphy--not unattainable--but always in short supply. And who knows how well those positions paid. . . .
Gregg Speed Building, Gregg Publishing Company, 1932, p 41-42
What is Wealth?
There is no word in the English language that is more generally misunderstood than the word “wealth.” Wealth is usually associated with the rich. This is a serious mistake. Wealth consists of everything useful to individuals and society. It would require a great many volumes to enumerate all the things that are useful.
Expressed in terms of money, the wealth of the United Sates is estimated at about $300 billion. Wealth constitutes, in part, the work of many generations and represents the energy and resourcefulness of a people. The industry and character of the people represent the most important items in an appreciation of a nation’s wealth. Many countries like China and Russia have great natural resources, but have failed to develop the land, to build factories, to construct railroads, and to promote commerce to the degree found in the United States and Western Europe. This has not been the result of a small population, for Russia has more than 100 million, and China more than 400 million, people.
Four factors enter into the production of all wealth. These factors are land, labor, capital, and business intelligence. Land is a primary factor, in so far as the earth represents the source of all raw materials. Labor is also a primary factor, because without it the land is wilderness. Also, clearly, labor without land is helpless.
But an even more important conclusion is to be found in the fact that a human being without the use of his mind, using only his hands, has never been able to rise above a condition of savagery. Primitive man soon learned that by means of a bow and arrow or a stone ax much more game or fuel could be obtained than was possible in working with his hands alone. The bow and arrow or the stone ax was the primitive man’s capital. This was the beginning of capital. In other words, capital consists of all those things that help man to greater production; it is the result of industry and saving.
Business intelligence may be considered the fourth factor in the production of wealth. It organizes land, labor, and capital in such a way as to get the best results. Success depends upon ability to adapt land to its best uses, to hire the most capable workmen, and to obtain the proper buildings, tools, machinery, and raw materials. When an apothecary receives a prescription from a physician, he proceeds to fill the order carefully. Every item of this prescription is painstakingly measured, weighed, and labeled in order that its purpose may be fulfilled. This is exactly what the careful businessman should proceed to do. Every item of capital, land, labor, and administration must be measured in order that the article may be produced with the greatest economy.—American Bankers Association
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