Economic Sophisms/111

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"is to regulate, and whose pockets the tax is to affect, the public cannot be robbed without first being imposed on and misled. Our ignorance is the raw material of every extortion from which we suffer, and we may be certain beforehand, that every sophism is the precursor of an act of plunder. My good friends! when you detect a sophism in a petition, button up your breeches-pocket, for you may be sure that this is the mark aimed at.

Let us see, then, what is the real object secretly aimed at by the shipowners of Bordeaux and Havre, and the manufacturers of Lyons, and which is concealed under the distinction which they attempt to draw between agricultural and manufactured commodities.

"It is principally this first class (that which comprises raw materials, upon which no human labour has been bestowed) which affords," say the Bordeaux petitioners, "the principal support to our merchant shipping. … In principle, a wise economy would not tax this class. … The second (commodities partly wrought up) may be taxed to a certain extent. The third (commodities which call for no more exertion of labour) we regard as the fittest subjects of taxation."

The Havre petitioners "consider that it is indispensable to reduce gradually the duty on raw materials to the lowest rate, in order that our manufacturers may gradually find employment for the shipping interest, which furnishes them with the first and indispensable materials of labour."

The manufacturers could not remain behindhand in politeness towards the shipowners. So the Lyons petition asks for the free introduction of raw materials, "in order to prove," as they express it, "that the interests of the manufacturing are not always opposed to those of the maritime towns."

No; but then the interests of both, understood as the petitioners understand them, are in direct opposition to the interests of agriculture and of consumers.

Well, gentlemen, we have come at length to see what you are aiming at, and the object of your subtle economical distinctions. You desire that the law should restrain the transport of finished goods across the ocean, in order that the more costly conveyance of raw and rough materials, bulky, and mixed up

with refuse, should afford greater scope for your merchant