Economic Sophisms/14

<pagequality level="4" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"We must confess that our adversaries have a marked advantage over us in the discussion. In very few words they can announce a half-truth; and in order to demonstrate that it is incomplete, we are obliged to have recourse to long and dry dissertations.

This arises from the nature of things. Protection concentrates on one point the good which it produces, while the evils which it inflicts are spread over the masses. The one is visible to the naked eye; the other only to the eye of the mind. In the case of liberty, it is just the reverse.

In the treatment of almost all economic questions, we find it to be so.

You say, Here is a machine which has turned thirty workmen into the street.

Or, Here is a spendthrift who encourages every branch of industry.

Or, The conquest of Algeria has doubled the trade of Marseilles.

Or, The budget secures subsistence for a hundred thousand families.

You are understood at once and by all. Your propositions are in themselves clear, simple, and true. What are your deductions from them?

Machinery is an evil.

Luxury, conquests, and heavy taxation, are productive of good.

And your theory has all the more success that you are in a situation to support it by a reference to undoubted facts.

On our side, we must decline to confine our attention to the cause, and its direct and immediate effect. We know that this very effect in its turn becomes a cause. To judge correctly of a measure, then, we must trace it through the whole chain of results to its definitive effect. In other words, we are forced to reason upon it.

But then clamour gets up: You are theorists, metaphysicians, idealists, utopian dreamers, doctrinaires; and all the perjudices of the popular mind are roused against us.

What, under such circumstances, are we to do? We can only invoke the patience and good sense of the reader, and set our