[Marxism] Benjamin Franklin and the basis of accumulation

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Tue Apr 27 12:34:34 MDT 2004

Advice to a Young Tradesman
by Benjamin Franklin, written in 1748

   As you have desired it of me, I write the following hints, which have
been of service to me, and may, if observed, be so to you.

   Remember, that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his
labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends
but six pence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the
only expense; he has really spent, or rather thrown away, five shillings

   Remember, that credit is money. If a man lets his money lie in my hands
after it is due, he gives me the interest, or as much I can make of it
during that time. This amounts to a considerable sum where a man has good
and large credit, and makes good use of it.

   Remember, that money is of the prolific, generating nature. Money can
beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on. Five shillings
turned is six, turned again it is seven and three-pence, and so on till it
become an hundred pounds. The more there is of it, the more it produces
every turning, so that the profits rise quicker and quicker, he that kills a
breeding sow, destroy all her offspring to the thousandth generation. He
that murders a crown, destroys all that it might have produced, even scores
of pounds.

   Remember, that six pounds a year is but a groat a day. For this little
sum (which may be daily wasted either in time or expense unperceived) a man
of credit may, on his own security, have the constant possession and use of
an hundred pounds. So much in stock, briskly turned by an industrious man,
produces great advantage.

   Remember this saying, The good paymaster is lord of another man's purse.
He that is know to pay punctually and exactly to the time he promises, may
at any time, and on any occasion, raise all the money his friends can spare.
This is sometimes of great use. After industry and frugality, nothing
contributes more to the raising of a young man in the world than punctuality
and justice in all his dealings; therefore, never keep borrowed money an
hour beyond the time you promised, lest a disappointment shut up your
friends purse forever.

   The most trifling actions that affect a man's credit are to be regarded.
The sound of your hammer at five in the morning, or nine at night, heard by
a creditor, makes him easy six months longer; but, if he sees you at a
billiard table, or hears your voice at at tavern, when you should be at
work, he sends for his money the next day, demands it, before he can receive
it, in a lump.

   It shows, besides, that you are mindful of what you owe; it makes you
appear a careful as well as an honest man, and that still increases your

   Beware of thinking all your own that you possess, and of living
accordingly. It is a mistake that many people who have credit fall into. To
prevent this, keep an exact account for some time, both of your expenses and
your income. If you take the pains at first to mention particulars, it will
have this good effect: you will discover how wonderfully small, trifling
expenses mount up to large sums, and will discern what might have been, and
may for the future be saved, without occasioning any great convenience.

   In short, the way to wealth, if you desire it, is plain as the way to
market. It depends chiefly on two words, industry and frugality; that is,
waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without
industry and frugality nothing will do, and with them everything. He that
gets all he can honestly, and saves all the gets (necessary expense
expected), will certainly become rich, if that Being who governs the world,
to whom all should look for a blessing on their honest endeavors, doth not,
in His wise providence, otherwise determine.

An Old Tradesman.


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