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Which is best for man, and for society, abundance or scarcity?
What! you exclaim, can that be a question? Has any one ever asserted, or is it possible to maintain, that scarcity is at the foundation of human wellbeing?
Yes, this has been asserted, and is maintained every day; and I hesitate not to affirm that the theory of scarcity is much the most popular. It is the life of conversation, of the journals, of books, and of the tribune; and strange as it may seem, it is certain that Political Economy will have fulfilled its practical mission when it has established beyond question, and widely disseminated, this very simple proposition: "The wealth of men consists in the abundance of commodities."
Do we not hear it said every day, "The foreigner is about to inundate us with his products?" Then we fear abundance.
Did not M. Saint Cricq exclaim, "Production is excessive?" Then he feared abundance.
Do workmen break machines? Then they fear excess of production, or abundance.
Has not M. Bugeaud pronounced these words, "Let bread be dear, and agriculturists will get rich?" Now, bread cannot be dear but because it is scarce. Therefore M. Bugeaud extols scarcity.
Does not M. d'Argout urge as an argument against sugar-growing the very productiveness of that industry? Does he not say, "Beetroot has no future, and its culture cannot be extended, because a few acres devoted to its culture in each