Economic Sophisms/74

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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"But this question, which is one of the greatest interest and importance, will be examined in another place.[1] I return to the subject of nominal price; and I maintain that it is not one of those absurdities which can be rendered specious by such reasonings as those of M. de Dombasle.

Put the case of a nation which is isolated, and possesses a given amount of specie, and which chooses to amuse itself by burning each year one half of all the commodities that it possesses. I undertake to prove that, according to the theory of M. de Dombasle, it will not be less rich.

In fact, in consequence of the fire, all things will be doubled in price, and the inventories of property, made before and after the destruction, will show exactly the same nominal value. But then what will the country in question have lost? If John buys his cloth dearer, he also sells his corn at a higher price; and if Peter loses on his purchase of corn, he retrieves his losses by the sale of his cloth. "Each recovers, in the extra price of his products, the extra expense of living he has been put to; and if everybody pays as a consumer, everybody receives a corresponding amount as a producer."

All this is a jingling quibble, and not science. The truth, in plain terms, is this: that men consume cloth and corn by fire or by using them, and that the effect is the same as regards price, but not as regards wealth, for it is precisely in the use of commodities that wealth or material prosperity consists.

In the same way, restriction, while diminishing the abundance of things, may raise their price to such an extent that each party shall be, pecuniarily speaking, as rich as before. But to set down in an inventory three measures of corn at 20s., or four measures at 15s., because the result is still sixty shillings,—would this, I ask, come to the same thing with reference to the satisfaction of men's wants?

It is to this, the consumer's point of view, that I shall never cease to recall the protectionists, for this is the end and design of all our efforts, and the solution of all problems.[2] I shallTemplate:Smallrefs

  1. See post, ch. v., second series.—TRANSLATOR.
  2. To this view of the subject the author frequently reverts. It was, in his eyes, all important; and, four days before his death, he dictated this recommendation:—"Tell M. de F. to treat economical questions always