<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"and the injurious cause of cheapness: injurious deamess, by diminishing the supply, for this is the avowed object of restriction; and injurious cheapness, by diminishing also the demand; seeing that it gives a false direction to labour and capital, and fetters consumers with taxes and trammels.
So that, as regards price, these two tendencies neutralize each other; and this is the reason why the restrictive system, restraining, as it does, demand and supply at one and the same time, does not in the long run realize even that dearness which is its object.
But, as regards the condition of the population, these causes do not at all neutralize each other; on the contrary, they concur in making it worse.
The effect of freedom of trade is exactly the opposite. In its general result, it may be that it does not realize the cheapness it promises; for it has two tendencies, one towards desirable cheapness through the extension of supply, or abundance; the other towards appreciable dearness by the development of demand, or general wealth. These two tendencies neutralize each other in what concerns nominal price, but they concur in what regards the material prosperity of the population.
In short, under the restrictive system, in as far as it is operative, men recede towards a state of things, in which both demand and supply are enfeebled. Under a system of freedom, they progress towards a state of things in which both are developed simultaneously, and without necessarily affecting nominal prices. Such prices form no good criterion of wealth. They may remain the same whilst society is falling into a state of the most abject poverty, or whilst it is advancing towards a state of the greatest prosperity.
We shall now, in a few words, show the practical application of this doctrine.
A cultivator of the south of France believes himself to be very rich, because he is protected by duties from external competition. He may be as poor as Job; but he nevertheless imagines that sooner or later he will get rich by protection. In these circumstances, if we ask him the question which was put by the Odier Committee in these words,—