Economic Sophisms/80

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<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"Template:Hwe the same, but as the means of remunerating that labour fell off, the ultimate result was a forcible reduction of wages.

On a greater scale, this is exactly what takes place in the case of a nation which isolates itself by adopting a prohibitive régime. It multiplies its branches of industry, I grant, but they become of diminished importance; it adopts, so to speak, a more complicated industrial rotation, but it is not so prolific, because its capital and labour have now to struggle with natural difficulties. A greater proportion of its circulating capital, which forms the wages fund, must be converted into fixed capital What remains may have more varied employment, but the total mass is not increased. It is like distributing the water of a pond among a multitude of shallow reservoirs—it covers more ground, and presents a greater surface to the rays of the sun, and it is precisely for this reason that it is all the sooner absorbed, evaporated, and lost.

The amount of capital and labour being given, they create a smaller amount of commodities in proportion as they encounter more obstacles. It is beyond doubt, that when international obstructions force capital and labour into channels and localities where they meet with greater difficulties of soil and climate, the general result must be, fewer products created—that is to say, fewer enjoyments for consumers. Now, when there are fewer enjoyments upon the whole, will the workman's share of them be augmented? If it were augmented, as is asserted, then the rich—the men who make the laws—would find their own share not only subject to the general diminution, but that diminished share would be still further reduced by what was added to the labourers' share. Is this possible? Is it credible? I advise you, workmen, to reject such suspicious generosity.[1]

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  1. See Harmonies Économiques, ch. xiv.