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was most warmly pleaded. Why, solely because the French do not choose to buy the better and cheaper iron of England, is a tax to be imposed on every consumer of silks in England—a gratuitous tax, one of pure passion and temper? That the men of Coventry ought not to make ribbons if cheaper ones and more of them can be obtained from France with the same amount of English labour has been already shown, and is not denied by him who takes his stand on reciprocity. Why then should free trade be forbidden to say to the people of England—buy your ribbons of France, and let France or some other country buy in return those goods which England will have to make to exchange for the ribbons? The Coventry men, when the transition state is over, will themselves be gainers also, for larger and more profitable trade will be created. For the English people to spite themselves because these perverse Frenchmen will not buy English iron would be simply to commit folly in England because folly is committed in France.
Free Trade is right for its own sake, for the sake of the nation that produces it, independently of all regard for what the foreigner may or may not do. If the foreigner sells he must buy to an equal amount. That is absolutely certain, and the whole question between Free Trade and Protection is always and fully raised and decided in the purchase of each single article without reference to any other buying and selling. Protection is bad in itself—bad for the country which embodies it in its statutes, harmful and impoverishing to the nation which forbids its people to employ themselves in those , industries for which they possess the greatest aptitude, and in which their labour is most profitable. Every protective duty is a mischievous and injurious thing, calling for abolition out of pure regard for English interests. On what possible ground can it be pretended that the removal of a disease which is preying upon English trade should be made to depend on what Frenchmen or any other foreigners may do within their own territories? The notion evidently is that in giving up a protective duty we are making a sacrifice to the foreigner. We have seen that this is a mistake. There is a sacrifice in a protective duty, but not in its repeal, but in its retention, the sacrifice of the good of the people to the personal advantage of a few. In establishing free trade, in allowing Englishmen to buy the foreigner's goods freely, to do him a service is in no sense whatever the motive of the act. He will profit because there will be an increase of trade, but the object which prompts the abolition of protection is to relieve the home country of a legislation which works it commercial harm.
But there is another and very different case, when the question of reciprocally abolishing duties in two countries simultaneously assumes a radically different character from the ordinary doctrine of reciprocity, the case when duties not protective but merely financial come under discussion. The motives which regulate the imposition of taxes for purposes of revenue are extremely complex and variable. A Chancellor of the Exchequer who either imposes or remits taxes must unavoidably be swayed by many diverse and often conflicting considerations. It may easily happen that in a deliberation which must frequently be perplexed, the possible effects which may be produced in foreign countries by the remission of a particular tax may assume great importance. A minister who has taxes to remit is brought face to face with motives of very different kinds. He has to weigh the inconveniences which belong to each separate tax, and further he must take into account the collective benefits which the abolition of a particular tax may bring. He may be justified in selecting for remission that tax which is perhaps less directly noxious than the other, but which may stand in the way of the acquisition of a great gain from an independent source. It would be open in principle and reason to the minister to apply his surplus to the abolition of one tax rather than of another, if thereby he can persuade a foreign country to reduce a tariff which impeded and injured English trade. Here the doctrine of reciprocal action has a perfectly legitimate application. No economical principle forbids the deed.
But though international treaties founded on joint remissipn of duties are free from any objection on the score of principle, it may be permitted to question their policy. At the best they are only a contrivance for combating the prejudices and the ignorance of foreign countries. They are devices for entrapping others under the appearance of a profitable gain into what they should do because it is right and beneficial. They aim at overcoming by a side-wind false notions about trade in foreign lands, but on that very account they have a manifest tendency to perpetuate the errors. So long as foreign Governments look out for equivalents before they consent to reduce duties, so long will they be disinclined to study the natures of free trade and protection. There is an appearance of gain, of advantages won by the diplomatic art, of benefit extorted from foreigners, which turns the minds of statesmen away from the study of economical truth. It is the wiser and in the long run the more successful course, to preach the truth by reasoning and example.
THE DOCTRINE OF RENT.
RENT has long been a favourite field of economica investigation. The success which political economists are said to have achieved in determining the nature and laws of rent is commonly regarded as one of the most brilliant triumphs of the science. The doctrine of rent which has resulted from their researches is pointed to by many as one of the grandest proofs of the scientific character of political economy. Indeed some have gone so far as to assert that the established theory of rent inevitably demonstrates that political economy is a true deductive science, as rigorous in its method, as genuine a development of strictly reasoned inferences from first principles as even the constructions of geometry. A position thus splendid, won for a doctrine by the genius of so many men of distinguished ability, might seem to have lifted it up for ever above the reach of criticism. It might be thought as presumptuous to challenge its accuracy as to dispute the validity of the first propositions in Euclid. Nevertheless, I venture to submit, that this very pretension to convert the doctrine of rent into a foundation for claiming for political economy the character of a deductive science furnishes ample warrant for a re-examination of that doctrine.
* Read before the Manchester Statistical Society, March 13, 1872,