Page:Economic Sophisms.djvu/43

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31
TO EQUALIZE THE CONDITIONS OF PRODUCTION.

incontestably that to produce directly an orange in France, a day's work, or its equivalent, is required; while to produce the value of a Portuguese orange, only a twelfth part of that day's labour would be necessary; which means exactly this, that the sun does at Lisbon what human labour does at Paris. Now, is it not very evident that if I can produce an orange, or, what comes to the same thing, the means of purchasing one, with a twelfth part of a day's labour, I am placed, with respect to this production, under exactly the same conditions as the Portuguese producer himself, excepting the carriage, which must be at my expense. It is certain, then, that liberty equalizes the conditions of production direct or indirect, as far as they can be equalized, since it leaves no other difference, but the inevitable one arising from the expense of transport.

I add, that liberty equalizes also the conditions of enjoyment, of satisfaction, of consumption, with which the protectionists never concern themselves, and which are yet the essential consideration, consumption being the end and object of all our industrial efforts. In virtue of free trade, we enjoy the sun of Portugal like the Portuguese themselves. The inhabitants of Havre and the citizens of London are put in possession, and on the same conditions, of all the mineral resources which nature has bestowed on Newcastle.


V. Gentlemen protectionists, you find me in a paradoxical humour; and I am disposed to go further still. I say, and I sincerely think, that if two countries are placed under unequal conditions of production, it is that one of the two which is least favoured by nature which has most to gain by free trade. To prove this, I must depart a little from the usual form of such a work as this. I shall do so nevertheless, first of all, because the entire question lies there, and also because it will afford me an opportunity of explaining an economic law of the highest importance, and which, if rightly understood, appears to me to be fitted to bring back to the science all those sects who, in our day, seek in the land of chimeras that social harmony which they fail to discover in nature. I refer to the law of consumption, which it is perhaps to be regretted that the majority of economists have neglected.