Economic Sophisms/67

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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 connecting Paris with all our frontiers by a network of railways—at a time, too, when I believe we are ardently and sincerely seeking a solution of the problem, how to bring the prices of commodities, in the place where they are to be consumed, as nearly as possible to the level of their prices in the place where they were produced,—I should think myself wanting to my country, to my age, and to myself, if I kept longer secret the marvellous discovery which I have just made.

The illusions of inventors are proverbial, but I am positively certain that I have discovered an infallible means of bringing products from every part of the world to France, and vice versa at a considerable reduction of cost.

Infallible, did I say? Its being infallible is only one of the advantages of my invention.

It requires neither plans, estimates, preparatory study, engineers, mechanists, contractors, capital, shareholders, or Government aid!

It presents no danger of shipwreck, explosion, fire, or collision!

It may be brought into operation at any time!

Moreover—and this must undoubtedly recommend it to the public—it will not add a penny to the Budget, but the reverse. It will not increase the staff of functionaries, but the reverse. It will interfere with no man's liberty, but the reverse.

It is observation, not chance, which has put me in possession of this discovery, and I will tell you what suggested it.

I had at the time this question to resolve:

"Why does an article manufactured at Brussels, for example, cost dearer when it comes to Paris?"

I soon perceived that it proceeds from this: That between Paris and Brussels obstacles of many kinds exist. First of all, there is distance, which entails loss of time, and we must either submit to this ourselves, or pay another to submit to it. Then come rivers, marshes, accidents, bad roads, which are so many difficulties to be surmounted. We succeed in building bridges, in forming roads, and making them smoother by pavements, iron rails, etc. But all this is costly, and the commodity must be made to bear the cost. Then there are robbers who infest the roads, and a body of police must be kept up, etc.