In fact the saver is so essential that it is nowadays fashionable to contend that the saving business ought not to be left to the whims of private individuals, but should be carried out by the State in the public interest; and there are some innocent folk who imagine that, if this were done, the fee that is now paid to the saver for the use of the capital that he has saved, would somehow or other be avoided. In fact the Government would have to tax the community to produce the capital required. Capital would be still, as before, the proceeds of work done. And the result would be that the taxpayers as a whole would have to pay for capital by providing it. This might be a more equitable arrangement, but as capital can only be produced by work, the taxpayers would have to do a certain amount of work with the prospect of not being allowed to keep the proceeds, but of being forced to hand it over to Government. Whether such a plan would be likely to be effective in keeping industry supplied with capital is a question which need not be debated until the possibility of such a system becomes a matter of practical politics.
For our present purpose it is enough to have shown that the capital, which is the stock-in-trade of finance, is not a fraudulent claim to take toll of the product of industry, but an essential part of the foundation on which industry is built. A man can only become a capitalist by rendering services for which he receives payment, and spending part of his pay not on his immediate enjoyment, but in establishing industry either on his own account or through the agency of someone else to whom be lends the necessary capital. Before any industry can start there must be tools and a fund out of which the workers can be paid until the work that they do begins to bring in its returns. The fund to buy these tools and pay the workers can only be found out of the proceeds of work done or services rendered. Moreover, there is always a risk to be run. As soon as the primitive savage left off making everything for himself and took to doing some special work, such as arrow making, in the hope that his skill, got from concentration on one particular employment, would be rewarded by the rest of the tribe who took his arrows and gave him food and clothes in return, he began to run the risk that his customers might not want his product, if they happened to take to fishing for their food instead of shooting it. This risk is still present with the organizers of industry and it falls first on the capitalist. If an industry fails the workers cease to be employed by it; but as long as they work for it their wages are a first charge which has to be paid before capital gets a penny of interest or profit, and if the failure of the industry is complete the capital sunk in it will be gone.
[Footnote 1: Pages 24, 25.]