Economic Sophisms/159

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"Template:Hwe?" His first impulse is to answer "No," and the Odier Committee proudly welcome his response.

However, we must go a little deeper into the matter. Unquestionably, foreign competition—nay, competition in general—is always troublesome; and if one branch of trade alone could get quit of it, that branch of trade would for some time profit largely.

But protection is not an isolated favour; it is a system. If, to the profit of the agriculturist, protection tends to create a scarcity of corn and of meat, it tends likewise to create, to the profit of other industries, a scarcity of iron, of cloth, of fuel, tools, etc.,—a scarcity, in short, of everything.

Now, if a scarcity of corn tends to enhance its price through a diminution of supply, the scarcity of all other commodities for which corn is exchanged tends to reduce the price of corn by a diminution of demand, so that it is not at all certain that ultimately corn will be a penny dearer than it would have been under a system of free trade. There is nothing certain in the whole process but this—that as there is upon the whole less of every commodity in the country, each man will be less plentifully provided with everything he has occasion to buy.

The agriculturist should ask himself whether it would not be more for his interest that a certain quantity of corn and cattle should be imported from abroad, and that he should at the same time find himself surrounded by a population in easy circumstances, able and willing to consume and pay for all sorts of agricultural produce.

Suppose a department in which the people are clothed in rags, fed upon chesnuts, and lodged in hovels. How can agriculture flourish in such a locality? What can the soil be made to produce with a well-founded expectation of fair remuneration? Meat? The people do not eat it. Milk? They must content themselves with water. Butter? It is regarded as a luxury. Wool? The use of it is dispensed with as much as possible. Does any one imagine that all the ordinary objects of consumption can thus be put beyond the reach of the masses, without tending to lower prices as much as protection is tending to raise them?

What has been said of the agriculturist holds equally true