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ducer and the monopolist. Upon this our new system seems to be founded, and of course it differs very widely from that of Smith, although its authors use his language. Prohibition and favouritism are abolished; and protecting duties are laid on the most foreign commodities, varying in their amount on almost every article, to place, as it is said, the foreigner and the Englishman on about the same footing in the market. Without this equality, it is evident that the one must keep the other out of it. Two grocers, to maintain lasting and regular competition, must be enabled to sell at the same price.
Many of those who hugely laud this new liberal system, as it is called, certainly utter some very odd nonsense respecting it. In the very same breath in which they panegyrize it, they declare that the capital and industry of England will still monopolize the market; or, in other words, they say that to change an old law for a new one that will have exactly the same operation, will be amazingly beneficial. Now, to substitute one prohibition for another, cannot, we think, add anything to the freedom of trade worth rejoicing over. Much praise is lavished on the reduction of a protecting duty from eighty to thirty-five per cent, although it is by no means clear that thirty-five will not operate now as eighty did formerly. It is, however, due to the authors of this system to state, that they say it will bring foreign manufactures into the market, and we are bound to believe them. In truth, if it do not, in what will it differ in effect from the old one? If it do not, how can foreign nations, as they say, bring us their manufactures, and take ours in exchange? If they have not abolished, not only prohibition, but partiality, they will produce a competition that will have no solid foundation-that will fall to the dust as often as it is raised-that will be one of fits and starts, and gluts and ruin. Their system will still be one of restrictions; it will be a continuation of the old one in everything save in being far more mischievous. We must therefore assume that it will keep the foreigner constantly in the market as the efficient competitor of the Englishman.
Every tongue is actively employed in abusing monopoly, and crying up competition. Now close monopoly is pernicious enough, but the extreme of
competition is far more so. If this extreme be only found in a few articles it appears to be beneficial, but why? It does not affect general income, while it diminishes in a small degree general expenditure. But if it prevail generally, it strikes not only at general prices, but at general income. It sinks not only the market, but wages and profits to the lowest figure. It is a prolific source of fraud and bankruptcy; it dissipates capital and throws labour out of employment-it is a public curse. The extreme of general cheapness must ever produce the extreme of general poverty, when it flows from the extreme of competition. If in one nation everything were placed under a monopoly, and in another everything were constantly exposed to excessive competition, the former would thrive, while the latter would sink into ruin.
The political economists, who certainly fall into far more inconsistencies than might be wished, while they declaim so unmercifully against monopoly and restriction, and eulogize competition so lavishly, yet admit that wages and profits must be reasonably good, or public wealth cannot be accumulated. As excessive competition is the destroyer of both, this is in effect saying that it ought not to exist. Smith says that a nation should endeavour to buy as cheaply and sell as dearly as possible. This is exceedingly true; and it evidently shows that he thought it would be a very bad system for a nation to endeavour to sell, as well as buy, as cheaply as possible. Now, how can Smith's advice be complied with? The nation must create competition as far as possible in what it buys, and it must destroy competition and make itself a monopolist as far as possible in what it sells. We know of no other method. This was the method of our fathers; it constituted the soul of the restrictive system.
Our producers generally have had a monopoly of the home-market, but how has it operated? Utterly unlike the monopoly of an individual or a company. Every trade has been in the hands of a number of unconnected rival individuals who have constantly kept competition at its proper height, and who have very often pushed it much higher. At all times these individuals have laboured to produce in the most economical manner, they have rarely got more than fair profits, and they
have frequently cut against, until they ruined, each other by cheap selling. What are called bad times, flow in reality from excessive competition. The demand for labour has not ceased, but the sellers of it are too numerous, therefore they sell at a price which starves them. Consumption has not ceased, but demand is narrowed until producers are too numerous; these must sell, they have to force a trade, they sell at a loss, and they become bankrupts. What are called the best times, flow in reality from competition being languid. Demand is good, because the sellers are not too numerous -because the buyers, rather than the sellers, press upon the market. The restoration of the equipoise between buyers and sellers bridles competition and changes bad times to good ones; the increasing of the sellers until they outweigh the buyers, changes good times into bad ones.
the political economists say a nation ought to be. Labour is fully, but not extravagantly remunerated; the profits of stock are good, but not excessive; consumption is great; general plenty prevails; competition yields all its good, and none of its evil; prosperity is seen everywhere; and immense additions are daily made to the public wealth. To supply the whole of our individual and national needs better, and to place the whole of our individual and national interests in greater harmony, is a downright impossibility. What a nation can want more than this, we cannot tell. Happy, thrice happy, would it be for us if we could be satisfied with it!
Our producers, notwithstanding their monopoly, were in a most miserable situation; the labourers were starving; the farmers were in insolvency; the traders and manufacturers were so disproportionately numerous, that they were cutting against and ruining each other on all hands, by underselling, when such a stupendous piece of good fortune was thrown upon them, as they must never again expect to meet with. The immense trade of South America came into their hands first; this revived the home-trade, and the latter came into the commercial and manufacturing market, in want of every thing, and with plenty of money to buy with. This speedily reduced competition; it changed the balance in favour of the seller; and times, from being very bad, became very good.
It might have been expected that this comparatively sudden and gigantic increase of demand, or in other words, that this instantaneous and immense addition made to the number of buyers, when not one ready-made seller was added to that of the sellers, would have cleared the market in a moment, created in most articles a scarcity, and carried prices to an enormous height. This, however, has not happened; prices have risen much; but still those of most articles can only be called good; supply has fallen very little, if anything, short of demand; the producers, generally, are getting fair, rather than extravagant profits. We are now precisely in that state in which
In this state of things, the foreigner is to be brought into the market; not the foreign buyer, but the foreign seller; not the seller of such things as we do not produce, but of such things as we do produce. He is to come not to exchange, but to increase competition; not to raise demand, but to add to supply. This, we are told, will add greatly to our trade and riches. At the first glance, it seems a clumsy paradox; and the more it is looked at, the more it seems a clumsy paradox. It is not often that great truths, relating to the common concerns of life, wear so paradoxical an appearance on close inspection.
If it were likely that the buyers would keep gaining upon the sellers, and that supply would soon be below demand, and prices be perniciously high, this would be very wise. But the reverse of this is certain. Our sellers were able to meet the immense additional demand without previous preparation; they possess capital and labour, without limit, for increasing production; they are already gaining upon the buyers; and the certainty is, that, were they to retain their monopoly, competition would soon be too high among them, and prices, if not too low, at least would be the lowest remunerating ones. The admission of the foreigner, therefore, is not necessary to prevent the ill effects of monopoly, while it is certain to produce or inflame those of competition.
But it is said that the foreigner will be compelled to take our manufactures in exchange for his own; or, in other words, that he must buy as much as he sells. We cannot see that this, if true, would yield any benefit. He who gives a hogshead of sugar to a
grocer for a similar hogshead, does not, we think, add any benefit to the trade of that grocer. It is true, that the foreign manufacturer who brings silks will take cottons; but then another will bring cottons and take silks. All trades are to be open; all kinds of manufacturers are to come; and although each may take articles different from those he brings, still, in the aggregate, it must be the same to ourselves as exchanging one hogshead of sugar for another. Let it be ever borne in mind that this is not to be a trade between nation and nation for dissimilar articles; that it is not to be a trade in which we, not as individuals, but as a whole people, are to barter things that we produce for things that we do not; that it is not to be in effect a trade between the agricultural population and that of towns. This trade already exists; this trade was always warmly cherished by the old system. The new trade is to be practically one in which the towns are to supply the villages with corn as well as merchandize; and the villages, the towns with merchandize as well as corn; it is to be practically a trade between tailor and tailor for clothes-between shoemaker and shoemaker for shoes.
would otherwise be paid to our own manufacturers. The trade in tea may be of benefit, but it is a clear addition to our other trade; we buy for money, but then it is an article which we do not produce, and which we cannot get elsewhere for goods.
The trade with the foreign manufacturer will be perfectly different.
What we are doing, therefore, seems to amount to this. Putting out of sight the reduction of the wine duty, &c. which do not enter into the question, we are removing such restrictions only as press upon the foreign manufacturer. We are removing none that press upon our own, either at home or abroad. The latter is fully supplying the market at as low prices as he can well charge; and the certainty in the future is, that, if left to himself, he will overstock rather than understock it. The certainty, as far as certainty can go, is, that, without the foreigner, supply will exceed demand, and not demand supply. In this state of things, we are bringing the foreign manufacturer into the market; we are multiplying not consumers, but producers; we are increasing what is likely to be superabundant, and decreasing what is likely to be wanted.
It is said that this will mightily increase trade. We have looked at it again, and again, and again, yet we have not been able to perceive it. If the foreigner should bring only such goods as we do not produce, and should exchange them for such as we do, this would, we can see clearly, benefit trade; but this kind of traffic is out of the question. If the competition which this will raise would lower prices without lowering general income, it would benefit trade; but every one admits, that if prices be lowered, rents, wages, profits, general income, must be lowered in proportion. It must sink revenue in at least the same degree as expenditure. Without the addition of a single soul to our population from abroad, an immense mass of foreign manufactures, similar to our own, are to be constantly poured into the mar ket from abroad. These are to be exchanged chiefly for money, rarely for our manufactures; and the money received for them is to be expended in other nations, in consuming the produce of other nations. Now if a large addition were to be thus made in the next month to the stock of silks, or
But no such compulsion will rest on the foreigner; on the contrary, a compulsion will rest' upon him to prohibit him from taking our goods in exchange for his own. We have thrown open our own home-market, but we can go no farther. That of other nations is closed to us, and it will remain so. His government will not permit him to carry back our manufactures; and therefore, if he take goods at all, he will take certain raw articles which we import. This may benefit certain feeble interests that have but little influence on the nation, but it will scarcely increase the import-trade; for it will diminish the demand of the home-manufacturer, to the amount of that of the foreign one. The latter will, however, take back chiefly money. This, say the economists, will be nearly the same as taking goods. We cannot believe them. The foreigner will come principally as a seller. He will scarcely add a single back or mouth to consumption; in so far as he may sell, he will displace our capital and labour; he will diminish our means of buying, and the money that will be paid to him
woollens, or cottons, in the home-market, we cannot see that it would have any other effect beyond causing a glut, and doing trade grievous injury. We cannot see that it would add to consumption if it lowered income equally with price. We cannot see that it could be sold without injuring the sale of our own manufacturers to its amount; and that it could be made regularly, without throwing much of our capital and labour out of employ ment. A certain demand will only employ a certain share of capital and labour; and if new capital and labour be employed to satisfy it on one side, an equal portion of the old must be left idle on the other. If a London shoemaker send shoes to a village to be sold, he does not thereby cause the villagers to wear more shoes; if he sell what he sends, the village shoemaker sells so many pairs less, and he is thereby the less able to consume the produce of his neighbours. Our own producers have again and again rendered themselves too numerous, and overstocked the market, and the consequences have always been bankruptcy and distress. We really cannot see that different consequences will follow, because the number will be rendered too great, and the glut will be caused, by foreigners. We cannot prevail upon ourselves to believe that those who will bring more manufactures similar to our own into the market than they will take out-who will, in reality, bring many, and take scarcely any out-and who will add nothing to consumption -can, by any possibility, benefit the trade of England.
But, say the economists, if our manufacturers cannot stand their ground, they must find other employment for their capital and labour. How admirably consistent this is with the outcry that was raised a very few years ago against all who wore foreign manufactures! We shall, we are pretty sure, in a few months, see every one turning up his nose at British manufactures, and arraying himself in foreign ones. Liberality is working mighty miracles. But where is this other employment to be met with? This new system is to operate not upon one, but upon all trades; and even now, millions of our capital cannot find employment, and the labourers in Ireland are nearly starving.
It is said that competition, (which,
by the by, is spoken of as though our manufacturers had never before been exposed to it,) will perhaps be the parent of beneficial inventions and discoveries. Alas! the hope of this forms but a poor basis for legislation, that affects vitally all the great interests of the nation. The genius from which such inventions and discoveries flow, scarcely appears in the world once in a century. But if it do, where will be the benefit? According to the economists, there should be no monopoly of workmen, or machinery, or anything else. All should be equally possessed and known by all nations. According to the new system of trade, the Englishman and the foreigner must stand on an equality in the market; if the former, by any inventions, gain the advantage, the restrictions on the latter must be relaxed to counterpoise it. Without this, free trade cannot exist. If our manufacturers, by inventions, can undersell the foreign ones, they drive the latter out of the market-the competition is ended-and the old system of exclusion is virtually re-established. The competition is to be kept up-prices are to be kept at the lowest
income is to sink with price—and, of course, no inventions and discoveries can make any alteration. Do our manufacturers get better, or so good, profits now, as they did before their best machinery was invented?
Our most valuable trade must ever be that with nations which produce commodities different from our own— with such nations as those of South America. By giving to the foreigner a portion of the home-trade, we at the same time give him an equal portion of this trade. The consumption of the raw articles here will be greatly decreased, and the exportation of manufactures for the purchase of these raw articles abroad must be decreased in proportion. The foreigner will need a much greater supply of the raw articles, and he will export a much greater quantity of manufactures to buy them with. We shall thus throw away just as much of our best foreign trade, as of our home-trade.
The home-trade has ever been the grand instrument for enabling our manufacturer to carry on his operations in the foreign one. Now this is to be thrown open to the foreign manufacturer, and while this is the case, the latter is to enjoy the monopoly, of
his own market. We speak only from reflection, when we say, that if a scheme could be devised for giving the advantage to the foreign manufacturers, for filling them with capital and skill, and for putting the chief trade of the world into their hands, this is that scheme.
It has been said by high authority, that the supply of iron falls far below the demand. Now, if this were likely to be the case, not for a few months but a number of years, if capital and labour were so fully employed that none could go to the iron-trade without leaving more profitable employment, then it might be very wise to throw this trade open. But we have a vast portion of capital and labour unemployed, and the probability is, that if the trade were not opened, a very large share of both would instantly enter it, and the supply would be almost at once brought to equal the demand. No additional supply, however, of British capital and labour is to be suffered to enter the trade; on the contrary, the capital and labour of Sweden are to be rescrted to, to furnish the iron that may be lacking. We really cannot see, that leaving our own capital and labour idle to employ those of Sweden can benefit our trade. There is another consideration. A few years since, when the Baltic was closed against us, doleful lamentations were heard on all hands, because the supply of certain articles almost essential for our national existence was cut off. Our Birmingham and Sheffield trade was to be destroyed,-the navy was to be ruined, and we know not what other calamities were to happen. Having made ourselves independent, we are sick of it; we want a change, therefore we are resuming our depend
The economists declare, that the richer our neighbours get-that the more we enrich them-the more trade they carry on with us, and the more we increase our trade. This, applied to nations generally as it is, is the most perfect fable that was ever flung in the teeth of history. When we were poor, we bought almost everything of the continental nations; as we got rich, we bought less and less, and now we buy a very few, comparatively trifling articles, of them. France is by far the richest of the continental nations, and yet she buys literally nothing of us. Rich as we are, we
should buy nothing of France; but she happens to produce two or three articles that we cannot produce ourselves. Russia, Germany, &c. when they were poor bought the most of us; as their wealth has increased, they have bought of us less and less. The acquisition of riches by us, in many instances, injured the trade of our neighbours; the acquisition of riches by several other nations, has injured our trade greatly. To say that this has been owing to the restrictive system, is to furnish no answer. The economists declare, that although most of the continental nations are acting upon this system, still if we fill them with wealth we shall make them the better customers.
The cause of this egregious blunder may, we think, be discovered. In a country town one of the inhabitants is a grocer, another a draper, and a third a hosier; the rest of the inhabitants are generally employed in agriculture. So long as each of the three confines himself to his particular articles, the increase of the wealth of the others increases to a certain extent his trade. If he must sell to them to the amount of what he buys of them, the more he buys of them the more he will sell. But if each be a general trader, if each be a grocer, draper and hosier, the increase of the wealth of one injures the others; it enables him to undersell them, and deprive them of connexions. If one of them buy of the others, he benefits them and injures himself to the extent of his purchase; if they buy of him to the same amount, it is in reality but the exchange of one halfpenny for another. So among nations, one may manufacture silks, another woollens, and a third cottons. So long as each confines itself to its particular manufacture, its enriching the others will increase its own trade. They will be to it not producing but consuming nations; i. e. they will only consume and not produce what it produces. But if each manufactures silks, woollens and cottons, an increase of wealth to one does the others injury; it enables it to gain their connexions. If one buy of the others without selling in return, it injures its own trade, and promotes theirs to the same amount; if they buy of each other, it is but the exchange of one halfpenny for another. By increasing the wealth of such nations as those of South Ame