Economic Sophisms/56

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<pagequality level="4" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"and on this fact you found an argument for the protection of certain branches of industry. But we have to pay these taxes in spite of protection. If, then, a particular branch of industry presents itself, and says, "I share in the payment of taxes; that raises the cost price of my products, and I demand that a protecting duty should also raise their selling price," what does such a demand amount to? It amounts simply to this, that the tax should be thrown over on the rest of the community. The object sought for is to be reimbursed the amount of the tax by a rise of prices. But as the Treasury requires to have the full amount of all the taxes, and as the masses have to pay the higher price, it follows that they have to bear not only their own share of taxation but that of the particular branch of industry which is protected. But we mean to protect everybody, you will say. I answer, in the first place, that that is impossible; and, in the next place, that if it were possible, there would be no relief. I would pay for you, and you would pay for me; but the tax must be paid all the same.

You are thus the dupes of an illusion. You wish in the first instance to pay taxes in order that you may have an army, a navy, a church, a university, judges, highways, etc., and then you wish to free from taxation first one branch of industry, then a second, then a third, always throwing back the burden upon the masses. You do nothing more than create interminable complications, without any other result than these complications themselves. Show me that a rise of price caused by protection falls upon the foreigner, and I could discover in your argument something specious. But if it be true that the public pays the tax before your law, and that after the law is passed it pays for protection and the tax into the bargain, truly I cannot see what is gained by it.

But I go further, and maintain that the heavier our taxes are, the more we should hasten to throw open our ports and our frontiers to foreigners less heavily taxed than ourselves. And why? In order to throw back upon them a greater share of our burden. Is it not an incontestable axiom in political economy that taxes ultimately fall on the consumer? The more, then, our exchanges are multiplied, the more will foreign consumers reimburse us for the taxes incorporated and worked