Economic Sophisms/218

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FATHER: While towns are spread over the provinces, Paris is turned into green fields. What a deplorable revolution! And this terrible calamity has been brought upon us by three magistrates, backed by public ignorance.

SON: Pray relate to me the history of this change.

FATHER: It is short and simple. Under pretext of planting in Paris three new branches of industry, and by this means giving employment to the working classes, these men got the commune to prohibit the entry into Paris of firewood, butter, and meat. They claimed for themselves the right of providing for their fellow-citizens. These commodities rose at first to exorbitant prices. No one earned enough to procure them, and the limited number of those who could procure them spent all their income on them, and had no longer the means of buying anything else. A check was thus given to all other branches of industry and production, and all the more quickly that the provinces no longer afforded a market. Poverty, death, and emigration then began to depopulate Paris.

SON: And when is this to stop?

FATHER: When Paris has become a forest and a prairie.

SON: The three magistrates must have made a large fortune?

FATHER: At first they realized enormous profits, but at length they fell into the common poverty.

SON: How did that happen?

FATHER: Look at that ruin. That was a magnificent mansion-house surrounded with a beautiful park. If Paris had continued to progress. Master Peter would have realized more interest than his entire capital now amounts to.

SON: How can that be, seeing he has got rid of competition?

FATHER: Competition in selling has disappeared, but competition in buying has disappeared also, and will continue every day to disappear more and more until Paris becomes a bare field, and until the copses of Master Peter have no more value than the copses of an equal extent of land in the Forest of Bondy. It is thus that monopoly, like every other system of injustice, carries in itself its own punishment.

SON: That appears to me not very clear, but the decadenceTemplate:Smallrefs