Page:Economic Sophisms.djvu/42

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ECONOMIC SOPHISMS.

should have a duty of elevenpence imposed upon them. By means of this duty, they say, the conditions af production will be equalized; and the Chamber, giving effect, as it always does, to such reasoning, inserts in the tariflf a duty of elevenpence upon every foreign orange.

Now, I maintain that the conditions of production are in nowise changed. The law has made no change on the heat of the sun of Lisbon, or on the frequency and intensity of the frosts of Paris. The ripening of oranges will continue to go on naturally on the banks of the Tagus, and artificially on the banks of the Seine—that is to say, much more human labour will be required in the one country than in the other. The conditions of sale are what have been equalized. The Portuguese must now sell us their oranges at a shilling, elevenpence of which goes to pay the tax. That tax will be paid, it is evident, by the French consumer. And look at the whimsical result. Upon each Portuguese orange consumed, the country will lose nothing, for the extra elevenpence charged to the consumer will be paid into the treasury. This will cause displacement, but not loss. But upon each French orange consumed there will be a loss of elevenpence, or nearly so, for the purchaser will certainly lose that sum, and the seller as certainly will not gain it, seeing that by the hypothesis he will only have received the cost price. I leave it to the protectionists to draw the inference.


IV. If I have dwelt upon this distinction between the conditions of production and the conditions of sale, a distinction which the protectionists will no doubt pronounce paradoxical, it is because it leads me to inflict on them another, and a much stranger, paradox, which is this: Would you equalize effectually the conditions of production, leave exchange free.

Now, really, it will be said, this is too much; you must be making game of us. Well, then, were it only for curiosity, I entreat the gentlemen protectionists to follow me on to the conclusion of my argument. It will not be long. I revert to my former illustration.

Let us suppose for a moment that the average daily wage which a Frenchman earns is equal to a shilling, and it follows