Page:Economic Sophisms.djvu/60

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48
ECONOMIC SOPHISMS.

If M. Lestiboudois desires it, I shall send him an extract from the books of M. T. He will there see at the credit of the profit and loss account—that is to say, as profits—two entries, one of 40,000, another of 70,400 francs, and M. T. is very sure that his accounts are accurate.

And yet, what do the Customhouse books tell M. Lestiboudois regarding this transaction? They tell him simply that France exported 200,000 francs' worth, and imported to the extent of 352,000 francs; whence the honourable deputy concludes "that she had expended and dissipated the profits of her anterior economies, that she is impoverishing herself, that she is on the high road to ruin, and has given away to the foreigner 152,000 francs of her capital."

Some time afterwards, M. T. despatched another vessel with a cargo also of the value of 200,000 francs, composed of the products of our native industry. This unfortunate ship was lost in a gale of wind after leaving the harbour, and all M. T. had to do was to make two short entries in his books, to this effect:—

"Sundry goods debtors to X, 200,000 francs, for purchases of different commodities despatched by the ship N.

"Profit and loss debtors to sundry goods, 200,000 francs, in consequence of definitive and total loss of the cargo."

At the same time, the Customhouse books bore an entry of 200,000 francs in the list of exportations; and as there was no corresponding entry to make in the list of importations, it follows that M. Lestiboudois and the Chamber will see in this shipwreck a clear and net profit for France of 200,000 francs.

There is still another inference to be deduced from this, which is, that according to the theory of the balance of trade, France has a very simple means of doubling her capital at any moment. It is enough to pass them through the Customhouse, and then pitch them into the sea. In this case the exports will represent the amount of her capital, the imports will be nil, and even impossible, and we shall gain all that the sea swallows up.

This is a joke, the protectionists will say. It is impossible we could give utterance to such absurdities. You do give utterance to them, however, and, what is more, you act upon