Imagens das páginas

who give him employment, and afford him the means of livingof rising in the world—are his natural enemies—his oppressors; and that the greater the demand for his labor, and the greater his reward for it, so much greater his misfortune.

They who are ingenious enough to invent such a fallacy, are sufficiently corrupt and unprincipled not to employ the falsehood. They can not but know it is false. They can not but know that any degree of protection which augments investments of capital in any specific enterprise, and which enlarges competition, is so far from creating a monopoly, that it is the very way to break it down, if it had existed before.

In such a community as the United States, wealth is generally accumulated by the labor, industry, enterprise, frugality, and other like virtues of those who began life poor, and rose from an humble condition. In the absence of the laws of primogeniture and entails, large accumulations of wealth rarely descend to the third generation before they are dissipated, and fall into the hands of those who, in their turn, are rising to affluence from nothing, by their virtues. The American wheel of fortune is thus constantly turning round, so that the descent of those at the top, brings up those at the bottom. It is the investment of capital for the employment of labor, that enables those at the bottom to rise; and the larger and the more multiform the investments, so much better will be their chances, and so much more rapid their ascent. But these demagogues, putting their hand to this wheel, and crying out to those at the bottom to look at those at the top, screaming "monopoly," merely to excite their envy and discontent, stop its revolutions, and keep both where they were. In the meantime, the foreigner gets rich out of the sweat of the American laborer's brow, while all things at home remain in statu quo. The demagogue will not allow American wealth to employ American labor, at American prices; and as a consequence, it is obliged to sell itself in the European market, at European prices; while the things it gets in exchange from Europe, as is shown in another place, are higher than they would be under a system of protection at home. In this way American labor is a loser twice overthrice, indeed: First, by being robbed of that employment which gives fair wages; next, by being dragged down to a level with European labor; and last, not least, by being knocked off from the American wheel of fortune, and deprived of all its chances. The last is an utter extinction of the hopes of rising.

The very charge brought against capitalists, viz., the crime of being rich, is that which makes then a blessing to labor, while they are willing to employ it. They who put obstacles in the way of this relation, by refusing that protection which is necessary to it, are the enemies of labor. Besides being vicious, they are stupid, and do not think, that, in preventing the investment of American capital in a way to employ American labor, they only stimulate the use of foreign capital and the employment of foreign labor, to supply the same wants which might be supplied from domestic sources; and that, in keeping money out of the hands of Americans, they put it in the hands of foreigners, banishing so much. capital from this country, to replenish foreign exchequers, to augment the splendors of foreign aristocracies, and the power of foreign despotisms, all at the expense of the American people. In attempting to cripple American capitalists, they not only cripple and impoverish American labor, but enrich foreign capitalists and foreign factors, and put additional millions into the coffers of foreign millionaires, all drawn from the hand of American toil.


[ocr errors]



The Balance of Trade a well known Principle in common Life-The Efforts made to mystify the Subject-Adam Smith and his School admit the Principle unawares.-The only Difficulty is an imperfect View of the Facts that belong to the Question-The Difficulty in England not found in the United States, and is now removed there.-Practical Men always Right on this Subject-Instance the London Times-Adam Smith's Wherewithal."-The Free-Trade Economists fail to distinguish between Money as a Subject and as the Instrument of Trade, in all their Reasonings on this Question —Adam Smith lets the Cat out of the Bag, by an Hypothesis.-The Key of this Hypothesis.—Adam Smith makes Loss Evidence of Gain.-Jo-hua Gee's Po-ition and Reasoning as a British Economist.-He the British Oracle.-His Policy for America-The Co`nage of a Nation Evidence of its profitable or unprofitable Trade -M Say's Reasoning on the Balance of Trade-Its Absurdity-Adam Smith the original Author of this Fallacy How One rides a Hobby -A Citizen may be enriched by the same Act that subtracts from the Wealth of the Nation-So of a Class of Citizens.

THAT a principle so plain as that of a balance of trade, should be contested, and even denied, as a fact that can have no existence in social and public economy, is one of those extravagances, which could nowhere else find a place, except in the minds of men who subsist in a world of dreams, rather than in a world of reality. The principle, in its practical application, lies within the range of every one's daily experience and observation. There is not a single man, in any community, failing in business, or more technically, becoming a bankrupt, who is not an example of the operation of this principle. Why is he a bankrupt? Simply because he has not paid respect to the principle of the balance of trade. If he had regarded that, and not run in debt beyond his means, he never would have been a bankrupt. By this neglect, and by overtrading, he has rendered himself liable to demands in cash, beyond his ability to meet, and he is obliged to stop payment. He is a bankrupt. The reason is simply, that a balance of trade, by his own improvidence, or misfortune, has overtaken him, which he can not en


Great efforts have been made, but without avail, by European Free-Trade economists and their disciples in this country, to mystify the argument founded on the balance of trade, and thereby to abate its force. Adam Smith admits all we want on this question, as indeed he does on almost every other on which he attempts to

establish a doctrine from which we feel obliged to dissent. It is so generally with his school: their isolated propositions are quite sufficient for our purpose on almost all the subjects in controversy. An estopel from their own words is doubtless the best kind of answer against those who have been so unfortunate as to answer themselves. On the balance of trade, Adam Smith says: "The ordinary state of debt and credit between any two places [or nations], is not always entirely regulated by the ordinary course of their dealings with one another; but is often influenced by that of the dealings of either with many other places" [or nations]. Nothing can be more true than this; and nothing more true than that it discloses the only difficulty in the debate, viz., an imperfect view of the facts that belong to the question. It is the whole commerce of a nation with all the world foreign to itself, that requires to be considered, when the balance of trade is sought for, in the same manner as in the case of an individual. It will not do for a merchant to consider only a part of his transactions, to know how he is to come out. He must consider them all. With all the facts in hand which are comprehended in this aggregate of a nation's foreign commerce, or, which is the same thing, with correct tables of imports and exports, in connexion with a true estimate of their respective values, taking into consideration also a true account of the distribution of the profits of the carrying trade between home and foreign parties, the rule claimed to arise from the balance of trade, to determine whether a nation is, on the whole, and as a whole, doing a profitable or unprofitable business, with foreign parts, is precisely the same, and equally infallible, as that which arises from the well-kept books of a counting-house, to determine, by the balances, whether the merchant or firm is making or losing money. Nor, so far as we can observe, is it pretended, that the rule is not a good and true one, on these conditions. The only objection, apparently, is, that the facts which constitute the rule, are not always reliable for the end in view, because they can not be accurately ascertained.

There was a reason in England for saying the official records are not reliable for such a purpose, which does not exist in the United States, nor, so far as we know, anywhere else. In 1694, a law was passed, requiring all entries to be made in the customhouse according to the prices then fixed, which is still in force. This, ever since, has caused material variations between the official and real or declared values, increasing as time advanced, and every

year fluctuating. But, from 1801 to 1845, inclusive, Porter, the latest authority, gives the "real or declared value," as they call it, in a separate column, though only for the exports. The "real or declared" value of the imports for these same years, we suppose, can be obtained by a like rule. It is no more true, however, that British economists may have been somewhat embarrassed by this mode of keeping the customhouse books, than that there is no occasion for such embarrassment in the case of the American records of the same class; and since they also have in England the real or declared valuation, certainly of late years, it is not easy to see why they should object to this rule.

That there may be some difficulty in ascertaining all the facts, with perfect accuracy, is not denied; but the principle of the rule is undoubtedly a correct one; and it is claimed, moreover, that the facts which belong to the case, in the United States, can be ascertained with sufficient accuracy to answer the purpose in view, inasmuch as perfect accuracy is not required. The balances, imperfect as the means of ascertaining them are, yet with such helps as can be obtained, are generally so obvious, that all the objections that have been made to the rule, are utterly futile.

Take, for example, the balances in the commercial history of the United States, as they relate to our foreign trade, which will be found in chapter xxiv. The main points of defect or inaccuracy in the tables cited, are such as throw the loss almost entirely on the side of the argument we are endeavoring to sustain, and of course impair it, first, because it is in evidence that an average of some ten millions a year, for a considerable time, has been left out of the table of imports, which ought to be there; and the same defect may run back through the whole period; while there is no evidence of a like defect in the table of exports, nor would it naturally or easily occur, as it would be without motive or necessity. But, in the second place, it is proved in various ways-proved in courts of justice—that a very large proportion of the imports, is always undervalued in the foreign invoices on which they are entered, for the purpose of lessening the amount of duties to be paid. If, therefore, for the sake of brevity, as well as obvious fairness to opponents, we take the tables as they are, and allow all that was earned in freight by American shipping, and all the avails of the fisheries, to balance the two important, and doubtless much larger, items above named as defects on the other side, there is, then, nothing else worthy of mention, affecting the accuracy of the rule. We

« AnteriorContinuar »