Economic Sophisms/224

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"Template:Hwe labour; and, now that I think of it, I can even increase that labour by throwing back the other plank into the sea.'"

"But this reasoning was absurd."

"No doubt. It is nevertheless the reasoning of every nation which protects itself by prohibition. It throws back the plank which is offered it in exchange for a small amount of labour in order to exert a greater amount of labour. It is not in the labour of the Customhouse officials that it discovers a gain. That gain is represented by the pains which Robinson takes to render back to the waves the gift which they had offered him. Consider the nation as a collective being, and you will not find be- tween its reasoning and that of Robinson an atom of difference."

"Did Robinson not see that he could devote the time saved to something else?"

"What else?"

"As long as a man has wants to satisfy and time at his disposal, there is always something to be done. I am not bound to specify the kind of labour he would in such a case undertake."

"I see clearly what labour he could have escaped."

"And I maintain that Robinson, with incredible blindness, confounded the labour with its result, the end with the means, and I am going to prove to you …"

"There is no need. Here we have the system of restriction or prohibition in its simplest form. If it appear to you absurd when so put, it is because the two capacities of producer and consumer are in this case mixed up in the same individual."

"Let us pass on, therefore, to a more complicated example."

"With all my heart. Some time afterwards, Robinson having met with Friday, they united their labour in a common work. In the morning they hunted for six hours, and brought home four baskets of game. In the evening they worked in the garden for six hours, and obtained four baskets of vegetables.

"One day a canoe touched at the island. A good-looking foreigner landed, and was admitted to the table of our two recluses. He tasted and commended very much the produce of the garden, and before taking leave of his entertainers, spoke as follows:—

"'Generous islanders, I inhabit a country where game is much more plentiful than here, but where horticulture is quite

unknown. It would be an easy matter to bring you every