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     Home - Words on Protectionism

SOPHISMS OF PROTECTION.

Cold-water Supply Test
Durham Or Screw Pipe Work Pipe And Fittings
Gas Fitting Pipe And Fittings Threading Measuring And Testing
Hot-water Heaters Instantaneous Coil And Storage Tanks.
House Traps Fresh-air Connections Drum Traps And Non-syphoning Traps
Installing Of French Or Sub-soil Drains
Insulation Of Piping To Eliminate Conduction Radiation Freezing And Noise
Laying Terra-cotta And Making Connections To Public Sewers. Water Connections
Making And Care Of Wiping Cloths
Mixtures Of Solders For Soldering Iron And Wiping Care Of Solders Melting Points Of Metals And Alloys
More Preparing And Wiping Joints
Pipe Threading
Plumbing Codes
Plumbing Fixtures And Trade
Preparing And Wiping Joints
Soil And Waste Pipes And Vents Tests
Storm And Sanitary Drainage With Sewage Disposal
The Use And Care Of The Soldering Iron Fluxes Making Different Soldering Joints


Sophisms Of The Protectionists

Capital And Interest
Capital And Interest
Spoliation And Law
Supremacy By Labor
The House
The Plane
The Sack Of Corn



Wonderful Discovery!








At this moment, when all minds are occupied in endeavoring to discover
the most economical means of transportation; when, to put these means
into practice, we are leveling roads, improving rivers, perfecting
steamboats, establishing railroads, and attempting various systems of
traction, atmospheric, hydraulic, pneumatic, electric, etc.,--at this
moment when, I believe, every one is seeking in sincerity and with
ardor the solution of this problem--

To bring the price of things in their place of consumption, as near as
possible to their price in that of production--

I would believe myself acting a culpable part towards my country,
towards the age in which I live, and towards myself, if I were longer to
keep secret the wonderful discovery which I have just made.

I am well aware that the self-illusions of inventors have become
proverbial, but I have, nevertheless, the most complete certainty of
having discovered an infallible means of bringing the produce of the
entire world into France, and reciprocally to transport ours, with a
very important reduction of price.

Infallible! and yet this is but a single one of the advantages of my
astonishing invention, which requires neither plans nor devices, neither
preparatory studies, nor engineers, nor machinists, nor capital, nor
stockholders, nor governmental assistance! There is no danger of
shipwrecks, of explosions, of shocks, of fire, nor of displacement of
rails! It can be put into practice without preparation from one day to
another!

Finally, and this will, no doubt, recommend it to the public, it will
not increase taxes one cent; but the contrary. It will not augment the
number of government functionaries, nor the exigencies of government
officers; but the contrary. It will put in hazard the liberty of no one;
but the contrary.

I have been led to this discovery not from accident, but observation,
and I will tell you how.

I had this question to determine:

Why does any article made, for instance, at Brussels, bear an increased
price on its arrival at Paris?

It was immediately evident to me that this was the result of obstacles
of various kinds existing between Brussels and Paris. First, there is
distance, which cannot be overcome without trouble and loss of time;
and either we must submit to these in our own person, or pay another for
bearing them for us. Then come rivers, swamps, accidents, heavy and
muddy roads; these are so many difficulties to be overcome; in order
to do which, causeways are constructed, bridges built, roads cut and
paved, railroads established, etc. But all this is costly, and the
article transported must bear its portion of the expense. There are
robbers, too, on the roads, and this necessitates guards, a police, etc.

Now, among these obstacles, there is one which we ourselves have
placed, and that at no little expense, between Brussels and Paris. This
consists of men planted along the frontier, armed to the teeth, whose
business it is to place difficulties in the way of the transportation
of goods from one country to another. These men are called custom-house
officers, and their effect is precisely similar to that of steep and
boggy roads. They retard and put obstacles in the way of transportation,
thus contributing to the difference which we have remarked between the
price of production and that of consumption; to diminish which
difference as much as possible, is the problem which we are seeking to
resolve.

Here, then, we have found its solution. Let our tariff be diminished.
We will thus have constructed a Northern Railroad which will cost us
nothing. Nay, more, we will be saved great expenses, and will begin from
the first day to save capital.

Really, I cannot but ask myself, in surprise, how our brains could have
admitted so whimsical a piece of folly, as to induce us to pay many
millions to destroy the natural obstacles interposed between France
and other nations, only at the same time to pay so many millions more in
order to replace them by artificial obstacles, which have exactly the
same effect; so that the obstacle removed, and the obstacle created,
neutralize each other; things go on as before, and the only result of
our trouble, is, a double expense.

An article of Belgian production is worth at Brussels twenty francs,
and, from the expenses of transportation, thirty francs at Paris. A
similar article of Parisian manufacture costs forty francs. What is our
course under these circumstances?

First, we impose a duty of at least ten francs on the Belgian article,
so as to raise its price to a level with that of the Parisian; the
government withal, paying numerous officials to attend to the levying of
this duty. The article thus pays ten francs for transportation, ten for
the tax.

This done, we say to ourselves: Transportation between Brussels and
Paris is very dear; let us spend two or three millions in railways, and
we will reduce it one-half. Evidently the result of such a course will
be to get the Belgian article at Paris for thirty-five francs, viz:

20 francs--price at Brussels.
10 duty.
5 transportation by railroad.
--
35 francs--total, or market price at Paris.

Could we not have attained the same end by lowering the tariff to five
francs? We would then have--

20 francs--price at Brussels.
5 duty.
10 transportation on the common road.
--
35 francs--total, or market price at Paris.

And this arrangement would have saved us the 200,000,000 spent upon the
railroad, besides the expense saved in custom-house surveillance, which
would of course diminish in proportion as the temptation to smuggling
would become less.

But it is answered, the duty is necessary to protect Parisian industry.
So be it; but do not then destroy the effect of it by your railroad.

For if you persist in your determination to keep the Belgian article on
a par with the Parisian at forty francs, you must raise the duty to
fifteen francs, in order to have:--

20 francs--price at Brussels.
15 protective duty.
5 transportation by railroad.
--
40 francs--total, at equalized prices.

And I now ask, of what benefit, under these circumstances, is the
railroad?

Frankly, is it not humiliating to the nineteenth century, that it should
be destined to transmit to future ages the example of such puerilities
seriously and gravely practiced? To be the dupe of another, is bad
enough; but to employ all the forms and ceremonies of legislation in
order to cheat one's self,--to doubly cheat one's self, and that too in
a mere mathematical account,--truly this is calculated to lower a little
the pride of this enlightened age.





Next: Reciprocity

Previous: Discriminating Duties



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