Economic Sophisms/184

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"Template:Hwe that all which an individual steals from the musses is a general gain. Perpetual motion, the philosopher's stone, the quadrature of the circle, are antiquated problems; but the theory of progress by plunder is still held in honour. A priori, we should have thought that, of all imaginable puerilities, it was the least likely to survive.

Some people will say. You are partisans, then, of the laissez passer?— economists of the school of Smith and Say? You do not desire the organization of labour. Yes, gentlemen, organize labour as much as you choose, but have the goodness not to organize theft.

Another, and a more numerous, set keep repeating, premiums, tariffs, all that has been exaggerated. We should use them without abusing them. A judicious liberty, combined with a moderate protection, that is what discreet and practical men desire. Let us steer clear of fixed principles and inflexible rules.

This is precisely what the traveller tells us takes place in the kingdom of A. "Highway robbery," say the sages, "is neither good nor bad in itself; that depends upon circumstances. All we are concerned with is to weigh things, and see our functionaries well paid for the work of weighing. It may be that we have given too great latitude to pillage; perhaps we have not given enough. Let us examine and balance the accounts of each man employed in the work of pillage. To those who do not earn enough, let us assign a larger portion of the road. To those who gain too much, we must limit the days or months of pillage."

Those who talk in this way gain a great reputation for moderation, prudence, and good sense. They never aspire to the highest offices in the state.

Those who say, Repress all injustice, whether on a greater or a smaller scale, suffer no dishonesty, to however small an extent, are marked down for ideologues, idle dreamers, who keep repeating over and over again the same thing. The people, moreover, find their arguments too clear, and why should they be expected to believe what is so easily understood?