Economic Sophisms/183

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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"Remark also, that if highway robbery presents some inconveniences in its actual perpetration, it has likewise some advantages which we do not find in robbery by tariff.

For example, it is possible to make an equitable division among all the producers. It is not so in the case of customs duties. The latter are incapable of protecting certain classes of society, such as artisans, shopkeepers, men of letters, lawyers, soldiers, labourers, etc.

It is true that the robbery by premium assumes an infinite number of shapes, and in this respect is not inferior to highway robbery; but, on the other hand, it leads frequently to results so whimsical and awkward that the natives of the kingdom of A. may well laugh at us.

What the victim of a highway robbery loses, the thief gains, and the articles stolen remain in the country. But under the system of robbery by premium, what the tax exacts from the Frenchman is conferred frequently on the Chinese, on the Hottentots, on the Caffres, etc., and here is the way in which this takes place:

A piece of cloth, we shall suppose, is worth 100 francs at Bordeaux. It cannot be sold below that price without a loss. It is impossible to sell it above that price because the competition of merchants prevents the price rising. In these circumstances, if a Frenchman desires to have the cloth, he must pay 100 francs, or want it. But if it is an Englishman who wants the cloth, the government steps in, and says to the merchant, "Sell your cloth, and we will get you 20 francs from the tax-payers." The merchant who could not get more than 100 francs for his cloth, sells it to the Englishman for 80. This sum, added to the 20 francs produced by the premium theft, makes all square. This is exactly the same case as if the taxpayers had given 20 francs to the Englishmen, upon condition of his buying French cloth at 20 francs discount, at 20 francs below the cost of production, at 20 francs below what it has cost ourselves. The robbery by premium, then, has this peculiarity, that the people robbed are resident in the country which tolerates it, while the people who profit by the robbery are scattered over the world.

Verily, it is marvellous that people should persist in Template:HwsTemplate:Smallrefs