Economic Sophisms/135

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<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"There is nothing which does not come within the domain of political economy. Do this for me, and I will do that for you. The essence of the transaction is the same, the remunerative process alone is different; but this last is a circumstance of great importance.

In ordinary transactions, each man is the judge, both of the service he receives and the service he renders. He can always refuse an exchange, or make it elsewhere; whence the necessity of bringing to market services which will be willingly accepted.

It is not so in state matters, especially before the introduction of representative government. Whether we have need of such services as the government furnishes or not, whether they are good or bad, we are forced always to accept them such as they are, and at the price at which the government estimates them. Now it is the tendency of all men to see through the small end of the telescope the services which they render, and through the large end the services which they receive. In private transactions, then, we should be led a fine dance, if we were without the security afforded by a price freely and openly bargained for.

Now this guarantee we have either not at all or to a very limited extent in public transactions. And yet the government, composed of men (although at the present day they would persuade us that legislators are something more than men), obeys the universal tendency. The government desires to render us great service, to serve us more than we need, and to make us accept, as true services, services which are sometimes very far from being so, and to exact from us in return other services or contributions.

In this way the state is also subject to the Malthusian law. It tends to pass the level of its means of existence, it grows great in proportion to these means, and these means consist of the people's substance. Woe, then, to those nations who are unable to set bounds to the action of the government! Liberty, private enterprise, wealth, thrift, independence, all will be wanting in such circumstances.

For there is one circumstance especially which it is very necessary to mark—it is this: Among the services which we

demand from the government, the principal one is security. To