Pagina:Scientia - Vol. IX.djvu/396

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396 scientia

than a machine in the future; a house to-day rather than a house a year from now; a piece of land to-day rather than a piece of land when he is ten years older; he would rather have some food to-day than wait until next year for it, or a suit of clothes, or stocks, or bonds, or anything else.

But what are these present and future « goods » which are thus contrasted? At first sight it might seem that the « goods » compared are rather heterogeneous, — wealth, property, services, or any economic elements whatever. This is true but some of these cases are reducible to others. When present capital is preferred to future capital, this preference is really a preference for the income of the first capital as compared with the income of the second. As already indicated the reason we would choose a present fruit tree rather than a similar fruit tree available in ten years is that the fruit of the first will be available earlier than the fruit of the second. The reason we prefer immediate tenancy of a house to the right to occupy it in six months is that the uses of the house will begin six months earlier in one case than in the other. In short, capital available early is preferred to capital of like kind available at a more remote time, simply because the income of the former is available earlier than the income of the latter.

It will thus be seen that till rates of impatience resolve themselves into preference for early income over late income. Moreover, the preference for present income over future income resolves itself into the preference for present enjoyable income over future enjoyable income. The income from an article of capital which consists merely of an intermediate step in production is desired for the sake of the final enjoyable income to which that intermediate step paves the way. We prefer present bread baking to future bread baking because the enjoyment of the resulting bread is available earlier in the one case than in the other.

We thus see that all impatience for goods (preference for present over future goods) resolves itself, in the last analysis, into impatience for enjoyable income (a preference for early enjoyable income over late enjoyable income). The preference for present over future goods, when thus reduced to its lowest terms, i. e. a preference for enjoyable income rids the present and future values of the interest element, which, in