Page:Economic Sophisms.djvu/58

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46
ECONOMIC SOPHISMS.

nothing in practice, but what he justifies in theory. His principle may be false; that is open to question. But, at any rate, he has a principle. He believes, and he proclaims it aloud, that if France gives ten, in order to receive fifteen, she loses five; and it follows, of course, that he supports laws which are in keeping with this view of the subject.

"The important thing to attend to," he says, "is that the amount of our importations goes on augmenting, and exceeds the amount of our exportations—that is to say, France every year purchases more foreign products, and sells less of her own. Figures prove this. What do we see? In 1842, imports exceeded exports by 200 millions. These facts appear to prove in the clearest manner that national industry is not sufficiently protected, that we depend upon foreign labour for our supplies, that the competition of our rivals oppresses our industry. The present law appears to me to recognise the fact, which is not true according to the economists, that when we purchase we necessarily sell a corresponding amount of commodities. It is evident that we can purchase, not with our usual products, not with our revenue, not with the results of permanent labour, but with our capital, with products which have been accumulated and stored up, those intended for reproduction—that is to say, that we may expend, that we may dissipate, the proceeds of anterior economies, that we may impoverish ourselves, that we may proceed on the road to ruin, and consume entirely the national capital. This is exactly what we are doing. Every year we give away 200 millions of francs to the foreigner."

Well, here is a man with whom we can come to an understanding. There is no hypocrisy in this language. The doctrine of the balance of trade is openly avowed. France imports 200 millions more than she exports. Then we lose 200 millions a year. And what is the remedy? To place restrictions on importation. The conclusion is unexceptionable.

It is with M. Lestiboudois, then, that we must deal, for how can we argue with M. Gauthier? If you tell him that the balance of trade is an error, he replies that that was what he laid down at the beginning. If you say that the balance of trade is a truth, he will reply that that is what be proves in his conclusions.