Economic Sophisms/194

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh""Perhaps I make too free with you; but I beg you to complete the explanation of your financial plan."

"I shall have a new law of Customs."

"In two volumes folio?"

"No, in two articles."

"For once, then, we may dispense with repeating the famous axiom, 'No one is supposed to be ignorant of the law'—Nul n'est censé ignorer la loi; which is a fiction. Let us see, then, your proposed tariff."

"Here it is:

"'ART. 1st—All imported merchandise shall pay a duty of 5 per cent. ad valoreḿ"

"Even raw materials?"

"Except those which are destitute of value."

"But they are all possessed of value, less or more."

"In that case they must pay duty, less or more."

"How do you suppose that our manufacturers can compete with foreign manufacturers who have their raw materials free?"

"The expenditure of the State being given, if we shut up this source of revenue, we must open another. That will not do away with the relative inferiority of our manufactures, and we shall have an additional staff of officials to create and to pay for."

"True. I reason as if the problem were to do away with taxation, and not to substitute one tax for another. I shall think over it. What is your second article?"

"'ART. 2d.—All merchandise exported shall pay a duty of 5 per cent. ad valoreḿ"

"Good gracious! Monsieur l'Utopiste. You are going to get yourself pelted, and, if necessary, I myself will cast the first stone."

"We have taken for granted that the majority are enlightened."

"Enlightened! Can you maintain that export duties will not be onerous?"

"All taxes are onerous; but this will be less so than others."

"The carnival justifies many eccentricities. Please to render plausible, if that be possible, this new paradox."

"How much do you pay for this wine?"

"One franc the litre."