D O C U M E N T 4 4 F E B R U A R Y 1 9 2 1 3 9
cesses up to the ultimate final product and thus saves much more human labor. If
60 million people are living in Germany, 600,000 of whom are productive coal
miners, then an improvement in mining technology of 10% would save 60,000
laborers, and Germany would have the existing energy reserves available. If the
utility effect of coal rises by 10%, however, then Germany has 10% more energy at
its disposal, so, provided the way of living remains the same, it could support 6 mil-
lion more people, or, to find a comparison figure to the above 60000 coal workers,
roughly 2 million active people could become retirees, if the population figure and
lifestyles otherwise remain the same. An immense difference, out of which the uni-
versality of coal again becomes apparent.
This takes me to another objection that you raised against my arguments,
namely, that it does not necessarily have to be beneficial for the original 60 million
inhabitants if an augmentation of the energy quantity permits an increase of another
6 million. I place myself entirely on your side with this assessment and also con-
tend that maximum is not equal to
That is why I also just said that it is
apparently the inevitable goal of any ambitious nation to multiply and to raise its
life expectancy. I do not, in fact, see any exception to this rule, at least among white
nations of the temperate zone. It is consoling, though, that this is the lesser of two
evils. For, each technical advance is equivalent to an expansion of energy and
would accordingly breed retirees or augment materialism, if population growth
were not added as a new incentive for employment. However, public education has
not yet come far enough to convert the consciously saved 2 million employed peo-
ple into just as many intellectual workers.
Finally, you think that my thesis “coal is the measure of all things” does not
stand up to closer examination; e.g., as much coal as may be available and as effi-
cient as its application may be, it cannot yield
Since my thesis, as
explained, is only valid today and for Germany, in my opinion, it nevertheless holds
its own even with this test question. We can only import cotton and have no other
product to trade against imports than potential coal in the form of our industrial and
products. Consequently, cotton is expressible as coal here as well,
which happens, however, in the simpler way of monetary settlement, whereby we
must always just consider that our money possesses no other backing than energy,
i.e., coal.
If the many abstractions I took the liberty to make are contrary to your scientific
way of thinking, it just proves that political economics is not a pure science but an
applied science. If you should be in a position to have the above arguments taken
somewhat into account in an anticipated new edition of the book by Mr. Mosz-
kowski, I would gladly welcome it for personal reasons but primarily also in the
interest of the subject.
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