Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Petition of the French Candlemakers

Written by French economist Frederic Bastiat in 1845 as a fictitious appeal to the French parliament on behalf of French candlemakers, seeking protectionism against a cheap, foreign rival:

"We are suffering from the ruinous competition of a rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low price; for the moment he appears, our candle sales cease, all the consumers turn to him, and a branch of French industry whose ramifications are innumerable is all at once reduced to complete stagnation. This rival, which is none other than the sun, is waging a merciless war on us.

We ask you to be so good as to pass a law requiring the closing of all windows, dormers, skylights, inside and outside shutters, curtains, casements and blinds -- in short, all openings, holes, chinks, and fissures through which the light of the sun can enter houses, to the detriment of the fair industries with which, we are proud to say, we have endowed the country, a country that cannot, without betraying ingratitude, abandon us today to so unequal a combat."

Read more here.

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