Economic Sophisms/231

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XV.
 
THE LITTLE ARSENAL OF THE FREE-TRADER,

IF any one tells you that there are no absolute principles, no inflexible rules; that prohibition may be bad and yet that restriction may be good,

Reply: "Restriction prohibits all that it hinders from being imported."

If any one says that agriculture is the nursing-mother of the country.

Reply: "What nourishes the country is not exactly agriculture, but corn."

If any one tells you that the basis of the food of the people is agriculture,

Reply: "The basis of the people's food is com. This is the reason why a law which gives us, by agricultural labour, two quarters of corn, when we could have obtained four quarters without such labour, and by means of labour applied to manufactures, is a law not for feeding, but for starving the people."

If any one remarks that restriction upon the importation of foreign corn gives rise to a more extensive culture, and consequently to increased home production,

Reply: "It induces men to sow grain on comparatively barren and ungrateful soils. To milk a cow and go on milking her, puts a little more into the pail, for it is difficult to say when you will come to the last drop. But that drop costs dear."

If any one tells you that when bread is dear, the agriculturist, having become rich, enriches the manufacturer,

Reply: "Bread is dear when it is scarce, and then men are poor, or, if you like it better, they become rich starvelings."

If you are further told that when bread gets dearer, wages rise,

Reply by pointing out that, in April 1847, five-sixths of our workmen were receiving charity.

If you are told that the wages of labour should rise with the increased price of provisions,

Reply: "This is as much as to say that in a ship without provisions, everybody will have as much biscuit as if the vessel were fully victualled."

If you are told that it is necessary to secure a good price to the man who sells corn,

Reply: "That in that case it is also necessary to secure good wages to the man who buys it."

If it is said that the proprietors, who make the laws, have raised the price of bread, without taking thought about wages, because they know that when bread rises, wages naturally rise,

Reply: "Upon the same principle, when the workmen come to make the laws, don't blame them if they fix a high rate of wages without busying themselves about protecting com, because they know that when wages rise, provisions naturally rise also."

If you are asked what, then, is to be done?

Reply: "Be just to everybody."

If you are told that it is essential that every great country should produce iron.

Reply: "What is essential is, that every great country should have iron."

If you are told that it is indispensable that every great country should produce cloth.