Economic Sophisms/96

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"personal interest—since we must give it its right name—a principle so active, so vigilant, so foreseeing, when it is free in its action. In what situation, I would ask, would the inhabitants of Paris be, if a minister should take it into his head to substitute for this power the combinations of his own genius, however superior we might suppose them to be—if he thought to subject to his supreme direction this prodigious mechanism, to hold the springs of it in his hands, to decide by whom, or in what manner, or on what conditions, everything needed should be produced, transported, exchanged, and consumed? Truly, there may be much suffering within the walls of Paris—poverty, despair, perhaps starvation, causing more tears to flow than ardent charity is able to dry up; but I affirm that it is probable, nay, that it is certain, that the arbitrary intervention of government would multiply infinitely those sufferings, and spread over all our fellow-citizens those evils which at present affect only a small number of them.

This faith, then, which we repose in a principle, when the question relates only to our home transactions, why should we not retain, when the same principle is applied to our inter- national transactions, which are undoubtedly less numerous, less delicate, and less complicated? And if it is not necessary that the préfecture should regulate our Parisian industries, weigh our chances, balance our profits and losses, see that our circulating medium is not exhausted, and equalize the conditions of our home labour, why should it be necessary that the Customhouse, departing from its fiscal duties, should pretend to exercise a protective action over our external commerce?