In behalf of Free trade

This is a creative article that a French economist called Bastiat gave in 1840 to the French Chamber of Deputies when they legislated higher duties on all foreign goods in order to benefit French industry:

 "Petition of the manufacturers of candles, waxlights, lamps, candlesticks, street lamps, snuffers, extinguishers and of the producers of oil, tallow, resin, alcohol and generally everything connected with lighting.

To Messieurs the members of the Chamber of Deputies.

Gentlemen, we are suffering from the intolerable competition of a foreign rival, placed, it would seem, in a condition so far superior to our own for the production of light, the he absolutely inundates our national market with it at a price fabulously reduced. ... This rival... is no other than the sun.

What we pray for, is, that it may please you to pass a law ordering the shutting up of all windows, skylights, dormer-windows, outside and inside shutters, curtains, blinds, bull´s-eyes, in a word of all openings, holes, chinks and fissures. ...

If you shut up as much as possible all acceess to natural light and create a demand for artificial light, which of our French manufacturers will not benefit by it?

If more tallow is consumed, then there must be more oxen and sheep.. if more oil is consumed, then we shall have extended cultivation of the poppy, of the olive... our heaths will be covered with resinous trees.

Make your choice, by be logical, for as long as you exclude, as you do, iron, corn, foreign fabrics, in proportion as their prices approximate to zero, what inconsistency it would be to admit the light of the sun, the price of which is already at zero during the entire day!"

 from: The Worldly Philosophers, Robert Heilbroner.


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