The subject matter of Economics, or Political Economy, is found in the relations arising among men in their efforts to gain a livelihood, and in the relations between man and the physical universe consequent upon these efforts. Economics deals primarily with human relations arising under certain conditions; for example, wages, rent, interest, and taxes, all rest upon such relations. But in order to make a living man must shape Nature to his purposes; therefore we must examine into the given conditions under which men come into contact with each other and with Nature in their efforts to secure the necessaries, conveniences, and luxuries of life.
While she has provided abundant opportunities for producing the means of satisfying human wants, Nature has decreed that man must work, - "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." Or to give Virgil's version of the same law,
The sire of all, great Jove himself decreed No works save those that task us should succeed.