Economic Sophisms/243

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It would not be difficult to demonstrate that these alarms are chimerical; that our alleged inferiority is much exaggerated; that our great branches of industry not only maintain their ground, but are actually developed under the action of external competition, and that tie infallible effect of such competition is to bring about an increase of general consumption, capable of absorbing both home and foreign products.

At present, I desire to make a direct answer to the objection, leaving it all the advantage of the ground chosen by the objectors. Keeping out of view for the present the special case of England and France, I shall inquire in a general way whether, when, by its superiority in one branch of industry, a nation comes to outrival and put down a similar branch of industry existing among another people, the former has advanced one step towards domination, or the latter towards dependence; in other words, whether both nations do not gain by the operation, and whether it is not the nation which is outrivalled that gains the most.

If we saw in a product nothing more than an opportunity of bestowing labour, the alarms of the protectionists would undoubtedly be well-founded. Were we to consider iron, for example, only in its relations with ironmasters, we might be led to fear that the competition of a country where it is the gratuitous gift of nature would extinguish the furnaces of another country where both ore and fuel are scarce.

But is this a complete view of the subject? Has iron relations only with those who make it? Has it no relations with those who use it? Is its sole and ultimate destination to be produced? And if it is useful, not on account of the labour to which it gives employment, but on account of the qualities it possesses, of the numerous purposes to which its durability and malleability adapt it, does it not follow that the foreigner cannot reduce its price, even so far as to render its production at home unprofitable, without doing us more good in this last respect, than harm in the other?

Pray consider how many things there are which foreigners, by reason of the natural advantages by which they areTemplate:Smallrefs