Do workers not smash machines? They are therefore terrified of excess production or, in other words, abundance. Well, bread can become expensive only if it becomes scarce; therefore M.
Bugeaud was recommending scarcity. Has not M. Do La Presse, Le Commerce, and the majority of daily newspapers 4 not publish one or more articles each morning to demonstrate to the Chambers and the government that it would be sound policy to raise the price of everything by law through the operation of tariffs? Do the three powers of state 5 not comply every day with this injunction from the regular press? Now tariffs raise the price of things only because they decrease the quantity offered in the marketplace! Therefore the papers, the Chambers, and the government put into practice the theory of scarcity, and I was right to say that this theory is by far the most popular one.
How has it come about that in the eyes of workers, political writers, and statesmen abundance is shown as something to be feared and scarcity as being advantageous? I propose to go back to the source of this illusion. We note that men become rich to the extent that they earn a good return from their work, that is to say, from what they sell at the highest price. They sell at the highest price in proportion to the rarity, that is to say, the relative shortage, of the type of good their efforts produce.
We conclude from this that, as far as they are concerned at least, scarcity makes them rich.
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When this reasoning is applied successively to all people who work, the theory of scarcity is thereby deduced. From this we move to its application, and in order to benefit all these people, high prices and the scarcity of all goods are provoked artificially by means of prohibition, restriction, the suppression of machines, and other similar means.
This is also true for abundance. We observe that when a product is plentiful Edition: current; Page: [ 9 ] it is sold at a low price and therefore producers earn less. If all producers are in this situation, they all become poor, and it is therefore abundance that ruins society. And, since all beliefs attempt to become reality, in a great many countries, we see laws made by men combating the abundance of things.
This sophism, expressed as a general statement, would perhaps have little effect; but when it is applied to a particular order of facts, to such and such a branch of production, or to a given class of workers, it is extremely specious, and this can be explained. It is a syllogism that is not false but incomplete.
Now, whatever truth there is in a syllogism is always and necessarily available to cognitive inspection. But the incomplete element is a negative phenomenon, a missing component which is very possible and even very easy not to take into account. Man produces in order to consume. He is both producer and consumer. The reasoning that I have just set out considers him only from the first of these points of view. From the second, the opposite conclusion would have been reached. Could we not say in fact:. The consumer is all the richer when he buys everything cheaply.
He buys things cheaply the more abundant they are; therefore abundance makes him rich. This reasoning, when extended to all consumers, would lead to the theory of abundance!4840.ru/components/handy/bewa-handy-geklaut-orten.php
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It is the way in which the concept of trade is imperfectly understood that produces these illusions. If we look to our own personal interest, we will recognize immediately that it has a twin nature. As sellers, our interest is in things being expensive and consequently that things should be scarce; as buyers, what counts is low prices or what comes to the same thing, that things should be abundant. We cannot therefore base a line of reasoning on one or the other of these interests without having established which of the two coincides and is identified with the general and constant interest of the human race.
If man were a solitary animal, 6 if he worked exclusively for himself, if he consumed the fruit of his labor directly, in a word, if he did not trade, the theory of scarcity would never have been able to infiltrate the world.
It is only too obvious that abundance would be advantageous to him, from wherever it arose, either as the result of his industry or the ingenious tools or Edition: current; Page: [ 10 ] powerful machines that he had invented or through the fertility of the soil, the generosity of nature, or even a mysterious invasion of products which the waves brought from elsewhere and washed up on the beach. Never would a solitary man, seeking to spur on his own work or to secure some support for it, envisage breaking tools that spared him effort or neutralizing the fertility of the soil or throwing back into the sea any of the advantageous goods it had brought him.
He would easily understand that work is not an aim but a means, and that it would be absurd to reject the aim for fear of damaging the means. He would understand that if he devotes two hours a day to providing for his needs, any circumstance machine, fertility, free gift, or anything else that spares him one hour of this work, the result remaining the same, makes this hour available to him, and that he may devote it to increasing his well-being.
In a word, he would understand that sparing people work is nothing other than progress. But trade clouds our vision of such a simple truth. In a social state, with the division of labor it generates, the production and the consumption of an object are not combined in the same individual. Each person is led to consider his work no longer as a means but as an end. With regard to each object, trade creates two interests, that of the producer and that of the consumer, and these two interests are always in direct opposition to each other.
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Let us take a producer, any producer; what is his immediate interest? It lies in these two things, 1. What is the immediate interest of the consumer? That the supply of the product in question should be extensive and demand restrained. Since these two interests are contradictory, one of them has of necessity to coincide with the social or general interest while the other runs counter to it. But which should legislation favor as being the expression of public good, if indeed it has to favor one? To know this, you need only examine what would happen if the secret desires of men were accomplished.
As producers, it must be agreed, each of us has antisocial desires. Are we vine growers? We would be little displeased if all the vines in the world froze, except for ours: that is the theory of scarcity. Are we the owners of foundries? Edition: current; Page: [ 11 ] We would want there to be no other iron on the market than what we brought to it, whatever the needs of the public might be, and with the deliberate intention that this public need, keenly felt and inadequately met, would result in our receiving a high price: that is also the theory of scarcity.
Are we farm workers? We would say, with M. Are we doctors? Given that we are doctors, our secret desires are antisocial. I do not mean to say that doctors formulate such desires. I prefer to believe that they would joyfully welcome a universal panacea; but this sentiment reveals not the doctor but the man or Christian who, in self-denial, puts himself in the situation of the consumer.
As one who exercises a profession and who draws his well-being from this profession, his consideration and even the means of existence of his family make it impossible for his desires, or if you prefer, his interests not to be antisocial. Do we manufacture cotton cloth? We would like to sell it at a price most advantageous to us. We would readily agree that all rival factories should be prohibited, and while we do not dare to express this wish publicly or pursue its total achievement with any chance of success, we nevertheless succeed to a certain extent through devious means, for example, by excluding foreign fabrics in order to reduce the quantity on offer, and thus produce, through the use of force, a scarcity of clothing to our advantage.
We could go through all forms of industry in this way, and we would always find that producers as such have antisocial views. The very honor and practice of ministers of religion are drawn from our death and vices. No doctor takes pleasure in the health even of his friends nor soldiers in peace in the town, and so on.
It follows from this that if the secret wishes of each producer were realized the world would regress rapidly into barbarism. Sail would outlaw steam, oars would outlaw sail and would soon have to give up transport in favor of carts, carts would yield to mules, and mules to human carriers of bales. Wool would exclude cotton and cotton exclude wool and so on, until a scarcity of everything had made man himself disappear from the face of the earth.
Let us suppose for a moment that legislative power and public force were put at the disposal of the Mimerel Committee, 8 and that each of the members making up this association had the right to require it to propose and sanction one little law: is it very difficult to guess to what codes of production the public would be subjected?
If we now consider the immediate interest of the consumer we will find that it is in perfect harmony with the general interest and with what the well-being of humanity demands. When a buyer enters the market, he wants to find it with an abundance of products. That the seasons are propitious to all harvests, that increasingly wonderful inventions bring a greater number of products and satisfactions within reach, that time and work are saved, that distance dissolves, that a spirit of peace and justice allows the burden of taxes to be reduced, and that barriers of all sorts fall: in all this the immediate interest of the consumer runs parallel with the public interest properly understood.
He may elevate his secret desires to the level of illusion or absurdity without his desires ceasing to be humanitarian. He may want bed and board, hearth and home, education and the moral code, security and peace, and strength and health to be obtained effortlessly, without work or measure, like dust in the road, water in the stream, the air or the light that surrounds us, without the achievement of such desires being contrary to the good of society.
Perhaps people will say that if these desires were granted, the work of the producer would be increasingly restricted and would end by ceasing for lack of sustenance. Why, though? Because, in this extreme supposition, all imaginable needs and all desires would be completely satisfied.
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Man, like the Almighty, would create everything by a single act of will. Would someone like to tell me, on such an assumption, what would there be to complain about in productive economic activity? I imagined just now a legislative assembly made up of workers, 9 of which each member would formulate into law his secret desire as a producer, and I said that the code that would emerge from this assembly would be systematic monopoly, the theory of scarcity put into practice.
In the same way, a Chamber in which each person consults only his immediate interest as a consumer would lead to the systematic establishment of freedom, the suppression of all restrictive measures, and the overturning of all artificial barriers, in a word, the realization of the theory of abundance.
That to consult the immediate interest of production alone is to consult an antisocial interest;.
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That to make the immediate interest of consumption the exclusive criterion is to adopt the general interest. May I be allowed to stress this point of view once more at the risk of repeating myself? There is radical antagonism between sellers and buyers. Sellers want the object of the sale to be scarce, in short supply and at a high price;. Buyers want it to be abundant, available everywhere at a low price.
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