Economic Sophisms/103

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"that in the course of the transformation a certain amount of labour will have been displaced; but we cannot allow that it has been destroyed or diminished.

The same thing holds of the importation of foreign commodities. Let us revert to our former hypothesis.

The country manufactures ten millions of hats, of which the cost price was 15 shillings. The foreigner sends similar hats to our market, and furnishes them at 10 shillings each. I maintain that the national labour will not be thereby diminished.

For it must produce to the extent of £5,000,000, to enable it to pay for 10 millions of hats at 10 shillings.

And then there remains to each purchaser five shillings saved on each hat, or in all, £2,500,000, which will be spent on other enjoyments—that is to say, which will go to support labour in other departments of industry.

Then the aggregate labour of the country will remain what it was, and the additional enjoyments represented by £2,500,000 saved upon hats, will form the clear profit accruing from imports under the system of free trade.

It is of no use to try to frighten us by a picture of the sufferings which, on this hypothesis, the displacement of labour will entail.

For, if the prohibition had never been imposed, the labour would have found its natural place under the ordinary law of exchange, and no displacement would have taken place.

If, on the other hand, prohibition has led to an artificial and unproductive employment of labour, it is prohibition, and not liberty, which is to blame for a displacement which is inevitable in the transition from what is detrimental to what is beneficial At all events, let no one pretend that because an abuse cannot be done away with, without inconvenience to those who profit by it, what has been suffered to exist for a time should be allowed to exist for ever.