Economic Sophisms/179

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"savours more of force, seeing that on the first refusal the tax-gather's bailiff is at the door?

But let monopolists take courage. Premium thefts, tariff thefts, if they violate equity as much as theft à L'Americaine, do not violate the law; on the contrary, they are perpetrated according to law; and if they are worse than common thefts, they do not come under the cognizance of la correctionnelle.

Besides, right or wrong, we are all robbed or robbers in this business. The author of this volume might very well cry "Stop thief!" when he buys; and with equal reason he might have that cry addressed to him when he sells;[1] and if he is in a situation different from that of many of his countrymen, the difference consists in this, that he knows that he loses more than he gains by the game, and they don't know it. If they knew it, the game would soon be given up.

Nor do I boast of being the first to give the thing its right name. Adam Smith said, sixty years ago, that "when manufacturers hold meetings, we may be sure a plot is hatching against the pockets of the public." Can we be surprised at this, when the public winks at it?

Well, then, suppose a meeting of manufacturers deliberating formally, under the title of conseils generaux. What takes place, and what is resolved upon?

Here is an abridged report of one of their meetings:—

"SHIPOWNER: Our merchant shipping is at the lowest ebb. {Dissent.) That is not to be wondered at. I cannot construct ships without iron. I can buy it in the market of the world at 10 francs; but by law the French ironmaster forces me to pay him 15 francs, which takes 5 francs out of my pocket. I demand liberty to purchase iron wherever I see proper.

"IRONMASTER: In the market of the world I find freights at 20 francs. By law I am obliged to pay the French shipowner 30; he takes 10 francs out of my pocket. He robs me, and I rob him; all quite right.

"STATESMAN: The shipowner has arrived at a hasty Template:Hws

  1. Possessing some landed property, on which he lives, he belongs to the protected class. This circumstance should disarm criticism. It shows that if he uses hard words, they are directed against the thing itself, and not against men's intentions or motives.