Dramatic, graphic difference between Labor and Capital

How do Labor and Capital differ?  They differ in two key ways:  First, in the burden they carry; and second, in the way they carry that burden.

Illustrations from a book I would definitely like:  Monash University Publishing, Drawing the Line, Chapter 6. ‘All the World Over’ The Transnational World of Australian Radical and Labour Cartoonists:

Figure 6.5: Anon, ‘The Difference between Labor and Capital’, Life, c. 1887.  Courtesy Huntingdon Library, California.  From Monash University Publishing, Drawing the Line, Chapter 6. ‘All the World Over’ The Transnational World of Australian Radical and Labour Cartoonists

Figure 6.5: Anon, ‘The Difference between Labor and Capital’, Life, c. 1887. Courtesy Huntingdon Library, California. From Monash University Publishing, Drawing the Line, Chapter 6. ‘All the World Over’ The Transnational World of Australian Radical and Labour Cartoonists


This view of Capital and Labor was not unique to the anonymous source; from the same year:

Figure 6.4: Phil May, ‘Poverty and Wealth; It all depends on the position of the bundle’, Bulletin, c. 1887.  Courtesy State Library of New South Wales.

Figure 6.4: Phil May, ‘Poverty and Wealth; It all depends on the position of the bundle’, Bulletin, c. 1887. Courtesy State Library of New South Wales.

Capitalists appear to have all eaten well, well enough in the eye of the public that a fat man with a vest was quick, cartoonist shorthand for “capitalist.”  If it did not apply in every case — see John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and the younger Cornelius Vanderbilt, for example — it applied often enough that “the fat guy” was instantly recognized as the capitalist, the factory owner, the boss.

Click over to that Monash University site; there are a score of great cartoons in that one chapter.

27 Responses to Dramatic, graphic difference between Labor and Capital

  1. Black Flag® says:



  2. Black Flag® says:

    Sorry, “man” generalization.

    Replace man with woman, wallet with purse, the argument remains the same.

    Because you do not understand the economics of poverty, you make up stories in your head, hold beliefs about other people purses someone make yours larger or smaller, and demean the very system that has made YOU rich.

    Everything you have, right now, comes from capitalists. You have a computer, house, a job … a life so rich that it should utterly astound you.

    But because the system is quiet, gentle in its gifts, and surrounds you – you do not see it.


  3. Debra says:

    I am not a man and I made no value judgments. It has been fun but I guess I can stop feeding the troll now.


  4. Black Flag® says:

    Gawd, man. Are you so dogmatic analogy simply is beyond you?
    Inequality is no sin, unless you believe you should hobble Jordon so you can play basketball.

    People ARE poor because the do not consume less then they produce! They, as a general class, are ABSOLUTELY known for their poor choices economically – which is why they are poor.

    And who cares about another man’s wallet? Your wallet size does not determine mine. Pay attention to your own wallet, not your neighbor’s.

    And your envy is showing. All you can do is point to other people’s money – money YOU DID NOT EARN – and declare them “bad”.

    No, sir, you are “bad”. You do not produce and you consume over your production. FIX YOURSELF and stop being envious of others that do different choices then you.

    You complain about the perversion of coercive force – yet, no doubt, that is the tool you prefer to distribute other people’s wealth.

    You champion the evil you condemn.

    That means you do love evil, as long is it provides for you. When it doesn’t, you hate it. It isn’t evil you hate, you merely do not like others using it instead of you.


  5. Debra says:

    Plough and scythe, really? Your outdated examples show your arguments are in the realm of mythical thinking. Sources of wealth and the great divides in inequality can be quantified and measured.

    You think people are poor because they don’t know enough to save their money. Well, the average CEO pay is 237 times bigger than the average worker pay. Average CEO pay = 14.1 million dollars yet 15% of Americans live in poverty. Poverty is sometimes described as not even having enough money to meet basic needs. In that situation there is nothing available to save for the future or make huge investments in the market. Maybe you think they are lazy? Far too many are actually working — for minimum wage. And these facts don’t even paint the whole picture.

    About half of the 1% did inherit their ‘earned’ wealth. But almost everyone on that list also inherited properties & family/social influence that don’t necessarily show up as earnings but are better indicators of their true wealth.

    Who do you think received the billions of dollars spent in Iraq? It sure didn’t go to the soldiers who earn a pittance. How many of those billions of dollars went to the auto, tele-com, tech, munitions and petro chemical industries (all of which already were receiving huge government subsidies as standard operating procedure)? Who do you think now owns/controls the valuable Iraqi businesses that were ‘secured’ early on in the war? Or are you still thinking that war was about WMD?

    i don’t want to go on with more examples. It is all too well documented. You can search for yourself if this interests you.

    Some links;

    Liked by 1 person

  6. jahigginbotham says:


    The Huntington http://www.huntington.org/ is quite well known and google turns up no ‘huntingdon’s. But here is a book link (picture 1.12 not included).



  7. Black Flag® says:

    I am not confuse, oh great economically illiterate one.

    Capitalists EFFORT, no less than the man in the field EFFORTS.

    Capital absolute is the consequence of labor – but all men must work to live; universal law.

    It is what a man does with his production, Ed, not that all men must effort.

    Labor, by its mindset, is hand to mouth.
    Capitalists, by its mindset, is savings and investment.

    Without capital, there is not much progress. History proves this amply.


  8. Ed Darrell says:

    A man shows you how to furl the ground and what is the best ground to grow, and you grow more. You begrudge that man, but without him, you starve.

    You’re confused, BF. That man showing how to grow, and how to grow best, is labor.

    Capital is impossible with labor, first.

    No wonder you keep voting to kill labor — you don’t know what it is.


  9. Black Flag® says:

    I do not demonize them. I recognize their limitations on their own thinking.


  10. Black Flag® says:

    It is the capitalist who invests in the scythe, the plow, the seed and the land that allows the harvest.

    Labor is important. That is not the question.

    The question is the value. It takes a man an hour to learn to chop wood, it takes years to know what is the right wood to chop.

    You can throw seeds on the ground, and it will grow.
    A man shows you how to furl the ground and what is the best ground to grow, and you grow more. You begrudge that man, but without him, you starve.

    Capital is vastly more valuable then labor – the market proves it by rewarding capital vastly more then labor.

    Because capital comes from saving – it only comes from those that PRODUCE MORE and those that REDUCE their consumption.

    A man who eats what he produces and only produces what he needs shows nothing. There is no progress.

    It is from capital all progress occurs.


  11. Ed Darrell says:

    The demonization of the wealthy and the promotion that labor is a victim has dangerous, long term consequences.

    Heady stuff from a guy who demonizes labor and the working poor and middle class, and promotes capitalists as victims.


  12. Ed Darrell says:

    The labor required to create the sickle with which the grain is harvested makes it possible for a capitalist to store grain for the future.

    Labor was required to clear the field, plow the field, and plant the grain. At every step, the very existence of capital is dependent upon labor, and impossible without labor.

    Lincoln was right again, Black Flag, that Labor is superior to Capital, and without labor, there is no capital.


  13. Black Flag® says:

    Anecdotal case in point;

    In getting my latest job – my first ‘real’ job in 30 years (I’ve been consultant -self-employed- since high school), like all employees was given choices in compensation.

    Unlike 80% of the employees, I accepted shares and share options as a substantial part of my compensation.

    Unlike 80% of the other employees, I made more from these shares alone then twice the average wage of those employees.

    Yes, I could have also lost most of my compensation too, if the company itself did poorly.

    But the question I asked these other employees “Why would you work here if you thought the company would do poorly?” But their risk aversion is high, regardless.

    That is the difference, Ed – it is not that labor is “cheated”; it is because they place little value in the future of their own labor’s production.


  14. Black Flag® says:

    Ed, if you wish to reverse the “fat bellies”, one must educate labor in their choices.

    Teach labor to reduce consumption under their production. This creates savings from which to participate in wealth creation.

    Teach labor the difference between present time value and future time value – delaying consumption to the future allows greater consumption in the future or consumption earned by past efforts in that future without much further effort.

    Teach labor the difference between risk aversion and risk taking. Avoiding risk avoids profit.

    When labor actively becomes investors in their own future production, the men in your picture merge to be the same man.


  15. Black Flag® says:

    The demonization of the wealthy and the promotion that labor is a victim has dangerous, long term consequences.

    Labor is paid presently, whereas the capitalist is reaps his profit in the future.

    Labor, by their choice, has completely discounted any value of their labor in the future, and demands its payment now. By this decision, it has excluded itself from whatever profit such labor may produce in the future (and, equally, excluded itself from any such losses). Labor is risk-adverse in their choices.

    Capitalists seek the return of value in the future for present losses. They absorb the present consumption in the belief that the future profit will be greater. Capitalists are risk-takers in their choices.

    Believing labor “deserves” an un-invested piece of that future profit is terribly misguided.

    It creates a condition where those that have discounted the future for fear of loss still demand the return of profit only when such loss is avoided. They avoid the risk, but demand wealth when that risk no longer exists. No cost, all benefit.

    Forcing capitalists to pay such profit to riskless-profit seekers comes at the cost of capitalists equally not investing – for they absorb all the losses, but a substantially less recovery from potential future profit.

    As there is a cost-less reward in getting both paid presently and receiving risk-less profit, attracts more people into this mode. The number of laborers goes up.

    As there is great cost in risk, but an ever diminishing return of profit, this detracts from people investing. The number of investments and growth of wealth goes down.

    The consequence: high unemployment with a stagnate economy.


  16. Black Flag® says:

    Most wealth is not “stolen” and the saving of the production of a man’s labor for his children is an absolute grace, not a sin.

    Wealth does not come from war or subsidies.

    These things merely consume and/or redistribute the wealth of others by coercion. This is, truly, a zero-sum or less-then-zero sum game.

    The economics of real wealth creation remains, the source of the expansion and growth of wealth is unconditional – producing more than one consumes.


  17. Debra says:

    Nice in theory but that isn’t what happened or what continues to happen. Most wealth is inherited from people who originally stole from others. Wealth continues today from government subsidies, imperial wars and the voodoo of the financial system.


  18. Black Flag® says:

    Capital is the fruit of labor AFTER consumption – one’s savings. It only comes from those that consume less then they make.

    One saves so to consume in the future. You take a bag of grain and store it so to consume it sometime in the future, when you want it.

    These savings – delayed consumption – becomes valuable to others who need to consume what they do not have today in order to create surplus tomorrow – borrowers; or ‘present consumption’.

    To balance the risk of losing one’s future consumption – a person can eat the grain today, and produce nothing back, starving the saver in his future – there is a price paid for such present consumption – a return on this investment. If such investments are done wisely, the creation of new wealth more covers the past consumption, and this return – leaving larger wealth to the early consumer he would not have had otherwise, and larger wealth for the investor which, he, too would not have otherwise.


  19. Debra says:

    I love Lincoln’s speech on this issue. He also said:

    “Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed.”

    It amazes me that in this time even Lincoln’s point of view has become radical.



  20. jahigginbotham says:

    The furriners may not be able to spell but here it is (Henry) Huntington Library, with a ‘t’ not ‘d’.


  21. Black Flag® says:

    I have done many things.

    Labor gets what it deserves and what it asks in return, nothing more.


  22. Ed Darrell says:

    I gather you’ve never had to dig a ditch for any distance that was required to keep a plot of land dry.

    Labor is unrespected by those who do not appreciate its value; that is not a fault of labor.

    Anyone can dig a ditch. It takes a good laborer to dig a ditch in the right place, to do the right thing. The price may well be the same, but the value of a correctly dug ditch is priceless, compared to a ditch done wrongly. Ask the people who used to live and farm in Salton, California.


  23. Black Flag® says:

    Labor is the lowest form – anyone can dig a ditch.
    It is the use of intelligence that magnifies wealth – knowing more what to do where then actually doing.

    There is no debt to labor. They are paid what they demand. If they do not like the deal, they can find another better deal.

    Because most people are like you – economically illiterate. They do not understand that digging a ditch is irrelevant without knowing where to dig such a ditch, nor understanding the value of such a ditch.


  24. Ed Darrell says:

    Labor is the highest form of wealth building. Labor is what separates modern humans from mere hunting and gathering. Without labor, there is no capital. Labor is the superior of capital, Lincoln observed, not wryly.

    Be a capitalist, sure; don’t forget the debt you owe labor, especially the other guy’s, but yours as well.

    One might reasonably wonder, if capitalists are not all fat guys oblivious to the suffering they cause around them, why do cartoonists get so much mileage portraying them that way?


  25. Black Flag® says:

    Lesson is easy.

    Be a capitalist – use your wealth to multiply your wealth.

    Labor is the lowest form of wealth building – the sooner you move higher, the better for your life.


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