Economic Sophisms/150

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh" hope, as it differs in nothing from that which constitutes the privilege which you vote year after year in your own favour.

The means of favouring us, which I have thus marvellously discovered, is to prohibit the use of sharp axes in this country.

I maintain that such a restriction would not be in the least more illogical or more arbitrary than the one to which you subject us in the case of your cloth.

Why do you drive away the Belgians? Because they sell cheaper than you. And why do they sell cheaper than you? Because they have a certain degree of superiority over you as manufacturers.

Between you and a Belgian, therefore, there is exactly the same difference as in my trade there would be between a blunt and a sharp axe.

And you force me, as a tradesman, to purchase from you the product of the blunt hatchet?

Regard the country at large as a workman who desires, by his labour, to procure all things he has want of, and, among others, cloth.

There are two means of effecting this.

The first is to spin and weave the wool.

The second is to produce other articles, as, for example, French clocks, paper-hangings, or wines, and exchange them with the Belgians for the cloth wanted.

Of these two processes, the one which gives the best result may be represented by the sharp axe, and the other by the blunt one. You do not deny that at present, in France, we obtain a piece of stuff by the work of our own looms (that is the blunt axe) with more labour than by producing and exchanging wines (that is the sharp axe). So far are you from denying this, that it is precisely because of this excess of labour (in which you make wealth to consist) that you recommend, nay, that you compel the employment of the worse of the two hatchets.

Now, only be consistent, be impartial, and if you mean to be just, treat the poor carpenters as you treat yourselves.

Pass a law to this effect:

"No one shall henceforth be permitted to employ any beams or rafters, but such as are produced and fashioned by blunt hatchets."

And see what will immediately happen.

Whereas at present we give a hundred blows of the axe, we shall then give three hundred. The work which we now do in an hour will then require three hours. What a powerful encouragement will thus be given to labour! Masters, journeymen, apprentices! our sufferings are now at an end. We shall be in demand; and, therefore, well paid. Whoever shall henceforth desire to have a roof to cover him must comply with our exactions, just as at present whoever desires clothes to his back must comply with yours.

And should the theoretical advocates of free trade ever dare to call in question the utility of the measure, we know well where to seek for reasons to confute them. Your Inquiry of 1834 is still to be had. With that weapon, we shall conquer; for you have there admirably pleaded the cause of restriction, and of blunt axes, which are in reality the same thing.