Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The French Candlemakers' Petition

From a Petition From the French Manufacturers of Candles:

"We (French candlemakers) are suffering from the ruinous competition of a foreign 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 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

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, bull's-eyes, deadlights, and blinds — in short, all openings, holes, chinks, and fissures through which the light of the sun is wont to 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."

~French economist Frédéric Bastiat writing in 1845.  Bastiast was born today in 1801

Just like we shouldn't complain about a foreign rival like the sun "dumping" light on us for free or below cost, we also shouldn't complain about foreign countries "dumping" goods in the U.S. below cost, and we shouldn't complain about currency "manipulation" that makes goods cheaper to U.S. consumers and companies, and we shouldn't complain about free gifts or foreign aid from other countries.

In addition to highlighting the economic fallacies of protectionism and promoting the economic benefits of free trade, Bastiat also facetiously proposed laws forbidding the use of everybody's right hand, based on the false assumptions that more difficulty means more work and more jobs, and more work produces more wealth.  

16 Comments:

At 6/30/2010 7:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a consumer, I never understood the issue of "dumping" goods (which benefits buyers and hurts the offending producer); although, usually, such claims were tied with "a long-term plan to destroy a market segment" (a la accusations that Wal-Mart unfairly lowers prices, kills the competition, and then raises prices).

Elsewhere you write: "Bastiat also facetiously proposed laws forbidding the use of everybody's right hand, based on the false assumptions that more difficulty means more work and more jobs, and more work produces more wealth."

Here he was simply anticipating Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron," which pretty much demands the same thing (the curtailment of talent), just for a different greater good ("leveling" of some theoretical playing field). Isn't that what affirmative action, special interest groups, identity politics, PC-ism are all about?

Hieronymus

 
At 6/30/2010 10:36 AM, Blogger W.E. Heasley said...

“…Was it noble of the United States to send goods and services as gifts to other counties in the form of Marshall Plan aid or, later, foreign aid, but ignoble for foreign countries to send us gifts in the indirect form of goods and services sold to us below cost? The citizens of the foreign government might well complain. They must suffer a lower standard of living for the benefit of American consumers …..”

--Milton and Rose Friedman from the book Free to Choose.

 
At 6/30/2010 10:40 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Cafe Hayek celebrates Bastiat's birthday...

 
At 6/30/2010 11:27 AM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

I do wonder why China, following none of the precepts of Western economists, is roaring past the US. China now is the world's largest manufacturer, and will become the world's largest economy within 10 years. While the US economy is droopping, there's is growing rapidly.

There are some unintended consequences of free trade. If an oil-thug state becomes wealthy enough to buy or make a nuke-bomb, and drops it on the United States, that would negate some of the advantages of free trade.

Did someone say Hayek? I was surprised to find out that Hayek supported state laws on worker hours (a maximum per week) and social welfare programs.

Kind of like Milton Friedman and his support of a progressive consumption tax to finance military mobilizations.

These darned theorists--don't they know Republican dogma?

 
At 6/30/2010 12:33 PM, Blogger rufus said...

The Sun won't shine "Day, and Night" to put the candlemakers out of business, and, then, raise its prices once it has the monopoly.

Bad analogy.

 
At 6/30/2010 1:01 PM, Anonymous geoih said...

Quote from Benny The Man: "These darned theorists--don't they know Republican dogma?"

Friedman and Hayek were hardly anarchists. Shall we now cite the impressive lifestyles lived by Lenin and Mao (or Clinton and Obama) as proof of the duplicity of socialists and Democrats?

 
At 6/30/2010 3:11 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

Geoih: I thik Clinon, Obama, and other Democrats are phonies. I also think the current-day Republican Party is composed of feckless poltroons and pygmies.

 
At 6/30/2010 3:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Benny, what is your source on China having the largest value of manufacturing output? See http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/markets/economy/china-overtake-manufacturing/

 
At 6/30/2010 4:47 PM, Anonymous grant said...

BENJAMIN:
This is why America needs a strong military. www.rf.com

I came across this site which was sales pitching a second world country to sell arms to them.

 
At 6/30/2010 6:55 PM, Blogger Paul said...

"There are some unintended consequences of free trade. If an oil-thug state becomes wealthy enough to buy or make a nuke-bomb, and drops it on the United States, that would negate some of the advantages of free trade."

What a dumb argument, naturally it comes from Benji the self proclaimed True Economic Conservative who wants to gut the military. We could throw up protectionist walls and thug states would still be selling their oil to China, India, etc., while we literally drive ourselves to the poor house.

Especially with Benji's boyfriend trying to shut down drilling for our own oil.

 
At 6/30/2010 9:12 PM, Anonymous grant said...

BENJAMIN:
Sorry about the link www.rf.com being blocked but this site shows the best and latest armaments the Russian Federation is offering to anyone anywhere.At the moment it's being blocked by SYU with a mobile phone ad.
I wonder if we are witnessing the beginning of a new cold war era with a new arms buildup by Russia and the third world.

 
At 6/30/2010 10:12 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Does Obama believe in free or fair trade?:

Obama: Pressing China on currency to make trade fair
Jun 30, 2010

"We've got to make sure that countries we're trading with are being fair. I believe in free trade," Obama said at a campaign-style meeting in Racine, Wisconsin.

 
At 6/30/2010 10:42 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

I think, the Chinese elitists know if their export prices rise too much, U.S. multinationals will shift their operations to Indonesia or Bangladesh. Obama isn't satisfied destroying the U.S. economy. He may end up destroying the Chinese economy too.

 
At 6/30/2010 10:55 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"We've got to make sure that countries we're trading with are being fair. I believe in free trade," Obama said at a campaign-style meeting in Racine, Wisconsin."

BHO still doesn't understand that you can't use the terms "free trade" and "fair" in the same sentence like that.

 
At 7/01/2010 6:42 AM, Anonymous geoih said...

Quote from PeakTrader: "Does Obama believe in free or fair trade?:"

What exactly is "fair trade"? You're making a value judgment, which implies subjectivity. Who gets to decide what is fair and what isn't?

 
At 7/01/2010 6:57 AM, Blogger juandos said...

pseudo benny makes this bizzare claim: "Did someone say Hayek? I was surprised to find out that Hayek supported state laws on worker hours (a maximum per week) and social welfare programs"...

Obviously pseudo benny's grasp of Hayek is less than nil...

Apparently pseudo benny hasn't had enough coffee in his diet for a very long time...

 

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