Corn-Law Fallacies

Corn-Law Fallacies

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Excerpt from Corn-Law Fallacies: With the Answers

The only effective way to meet the fallacies perseveringly put forward on the important subject of the Corn Laws, is, to collect them patiently as they appear, and publish them with the answers. In pursuance of this plan, the author of the following replies has, in the course of something more than eleven years, collected and published between seven and eight hundred; and the crop seems still to be as plentiful as ever.

1. - Would not an admission of foreign corn cause a great extent of British land to be put out of tillage, and by consequence, a great number of agricultural labourers to be put out of employment? - Standard, Aug. 18, 1838.

Answer - It would cause a certain extent to be put out of tillage, just as, if Manchester was walled up, and the people fed with corn grown in flower-pots and on the tops of houses, opening the gates would cause the flower-pots to be put out of tillage, and the labourers employed on them to he put out of employment. But for one gallon of corn so prevented from being grown in flower-pots, ten would be brought in through the gates; and for one flower-pot cultivator thrown out of employment, ten honest men would be called into employment some other way. Ask the people of Manchester what they think of the experiment.

2. - Would not these labourers be thrown into the supply of manufacturing labourers, to look lor employment? - Id.

A. - Undoubtedly. But the people of Manchester would be enormous fools if they resisted the opening of their gates, for fear of having the labourers on flower-pots thrown on them for employment. If every one of these labourers, with their descendants, were to be kept by public subscription in secula seculorum, there would be no persuading the men of Manchester to keep fast their gates for fear of such a consummation.

3. - Would not the effect of a reduction in the price of grain be to cause wages to be reduced in full proportion, under the operation or a Poor Law, which has screwed down wages to the "starving place," whatever that place - in other words, whatever the price of bread - may be? - Id.

A. - The reduction in the price of grain would cause wages to be reduced, but not in full proportion. To make it clearer, begin with the converse case. Suppose that in a country where there were no corn Laws the were to come to the working classes and say "Let us cut off your supplies of foreign corn, and when there is half as much corn as there was, the price of corn will rise; and wages, you know, will rise too, and then you will be as well off as before." Would not the working classes immediately reply, "Do you mean to tell us, who are the great consumers of corn, that after you have diminished the supply of corn one-half, wages are to rise till they give us as much corn out of the half as they did of the whole? No, no; your plan is to get two days' work out of us for a gallon of corn, instead of one." And by the contrary rule, if the quantity of corn was increased, it would be impossible that the wages of the working classes should fall so as to give them the power of buying no more corn than before; for if so, how is all the corn to be sold? A Poor Law may screw down wages to the "starving place" when the employment of the working classes is cut off by the stoppage of foreign trade; but the way to put an end to the "screw," is to open the sources of employment, and allow England to be a commercial country.

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