Economic Sophisms/138

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"Certain nations seem marvellously disposed to become the prey of government spoliation; those especially where the people, losing sight of their own dignity and their own energy, think themselves undone if they are not governed and controlled in everything. Without having travelled very much, I have seen countries where it is believed that agriculture can make no progress unless experimental farms are maintained by the government; that there would soon be no horses but for the state haras; and that fathers of families would either not educate their children, or have them taught immorality, if the state did not prescribe the course of education, etc., etc. In such a country, revolutions succeed each other, and the governing powers are changed in rapid succession. But the governed continue nevertheless to be governed on the principle of mercy and compassion (for the tendency which I am here exposing is the very food upon which governments live), until at length the people perceive that it is better to leave the greatest possible number of services in the category of those which the parties interested exchange at a price fixed by free and open bargaining.

We have seen that an exchange of services constitutes society; and it must be an exchange of good and loyal services. But we have shown also that men have a strong interest, and consequently an irresistible bent, to exaggerate the relative value of the services which they render. And, in truth, I can perceive no other cure for this evil but the free acceptance or the free refusal of those to whom these services are offered.

Whence it happens that certain men have recourse to the law in order that it may control this freedom in certain branches of industry. This kind of spoliation is called Privilege or Monopoly. Mark well its origin and character.

Everybody knows that the services which he brings to the general market are appreciated and remunerated in proportion to their rarity. The intervention of law is invoked to drive out of the market all those who come to offer analogous services; or, which comes to the same thing, if the assistance of an instrument or a machine is necessary to enable such services to be rendered, the law interposes to give exclusive possession of it.

This variety of spoliation being the principal subject of the