Economic Sophisms/162

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"is the general wealth of the community. The value of a house is not always in proportion to what it has cost, but likewise in proportion to the number and fortune of the tenants. Are two houses exactly similar necessarily of the same value? By no means, if the one is situated in Paris and the other in Lower Brittany. Never speak of price without taking into account collateral circumstances, and let it be remembered that no attempt is so bootless as to endeavour to found the prosperity of parts on the ruin of the whole. And yet this is what the policy of restriction pretends to do.

Consider what would have happened at Paris, for example, if this strife of interests had been attended with success.

Suppose that the first shoemaker who established himself in that city had succeeded in ejecting all others; that the first tailor, the first mason, the first printer, the first watchmaker, the first physician, the first baker, had been equally successful. Paris would at this moment have been still a village of 1200 or 1500 inhabitants. It has turned out very differently. The market of Paris has been open to all (excepting those whom you still keep out), and it is this freedom which has enlarged and aggrandized it. The struggles of competition have been bitter and long continued, and this is what has made Paris a city of a million of inhabitants. The general wealth has increased, no doubt; but has the individual wealth of the shoemakers and tailors been diminished? This is the question you have to ask. You may say that according as the number of competitors increased, the price of their products would go on falling. Has it done so? No; for if the supply, has been augmented, the demand has been enlarged.

The same thing will hold good of your commodity, cloth; let it enter freely. You will have more competitors in the trade, it is true; but you will have more customers, and, above all, richer customers. Is it possible you can never have thought of this, when you see nine-tenths of your fellow=citizens underclothed in winter, for want of the commodity which you manufacture?

If you wish to prosper, allow your customers to thrive. This is a lesson which you have been very long in learning. When it is thoroughly learnt, each man will seek his own interest in the general good; and then jealousies between man and man, town and town, province and province, nation and nation, will no longer trouble the world.