The Candlemakers’ Petition. by Frédéric Bastiat (). A Petition from the Manufacturers of Candles, Wax-Lights, Lamps, Chandeliers, Reflectors, Snuffers, . 09/19/Claude Frédéric Bastiat. Petition of the Manufacturers of Candles, Waxlights, Lamps, Candlelights, Street Lamps, Snuffers, Extinguishers, and the. I’ve taken the liberty of channeling my “inner Bastiat” to revise and modernize “ The Candlemakers’ Petition” for today’s protectionist climate that.
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This plant, luxuriant and exhausting to the soil, will come in good time to profit by the increased fertility which the raising of cattle will have communicated to our fields. Will you tell us that, though we may gain by this protection, France will not gain at all, because the consumer will bear the expense? Indeed, you yourselves have anticipated this objection.
You are entirely occupied with the interest of the producer, whom you are anxious to free from foreign competition. When a product — coal, iron, wheat, or textiles — comes to us from abroad, and when we can acquire it for less labour than if we produced it ourselves, the difference is a gratuitous gift that is conferred up on us. Well, be it so; if consumers are interested in the free admission of natural light, the producers of artificial light are equally interested in its prohibition.
If then the demi-gratuity can determine you to check competition, on what principle can the entire gratuity be alleged as a reason for admitting it? Do you tell us, that if we gain by this protection, France will not gain, because the consumer must pay the price of it? Now, it is precisely this semigratuity pardon the word that we contend should be excluded.
To the Honourable Members of the Chamber of Deputies.
Be good enough, honourable deputies, to take our petitoon seriously, and do not reject it without at least hearing canclemakers reasons that we have to advance in its support. We are subjected to the intolerable competition of a foreign rival, who enjoys, it would seem, such superior facilities for the production of light, that he is enabled to inundate our national market at so exceedingly reduced a price, that, the moment he makes his appearance, he draws off all custom from us; and thus an important branch of French industry, with all its innumerable ramifications, is suddenly reduced to a state of complete stagnation.
This rival, which is none other than the sun, is waging war on us so mercilessly we suspect he is being stirred up against us by perfidious Albion excellent diplomacy nowadays! These rich yet soil-exhausting plants will come at just the right time to enable us to put to profitable use the increased fertility that the breeding of cattle will impart to the land.
When an orange comes to us from Portugal, we may conclude that it is furnished in part gratuitously, in part for an onerous consideration; in other words, it comes to us at half price as compared with those of Paris. It needs but a little reflection, gentlemen, to be convinced that there is perhaps not one Frenchman, from the wealthy stockholder of the Anzin Company to the humblest vendor of matches, whose condition would not be improved by the success of our petition.
We defy you to utter a single word against us which will not instantly rebound against yourselves and your entire policy. There is no needy resin-collector on the heights of his sand dunes, no poor miner in the depths of his black pit, who will not receive higher wages and enjoy increased prosperity.
The question, and we ask it formally, is this: Choose, but be consistent. The same remark applies to navigation. But you do not like doctrines; you hold systems in horror; and, as for principles, you declare that there are no such things in political economy. We foresee your objections, gentlemen; but there is not one that you can oppose to us which you will not be obliged to gather from the works of the partisans of free trade.
When you are told that the consumer is interested in the free importation of iron, coal, corn, textile fabrics — yes, you reply, candlejakers the producer is interested in their exclusion.
In a word, you wish to secure the national market to national labor. If an orange from Lisbon sells for half the price of an orange from Paris, it is because the natural heat of the sun, which is, of course, free of charge, does for the former what the latter owes to artificial heating, which necessarily has to be paid for in the market. Skip to main content. Only have the candemakers to reflect, gentlemen, and you will be convinced that there is perhaps no Frenchman, from the wealthy coalmaster to the humblest vendor of lucifer matches, whose lot will not be ameliorated by the success of this our petition.
We dare challenge you to pronounce one word against our petition, which is not equally opposed to your own practice and the principle which guides your policy.
But what shall we say of the specialities of Parisian manufacture? Remember that hitherto you have always repelled foreign products, because they approximate more nearly than home products the character of gratuitous gifts. Will you say that the light of the sun is a gratuitous gift of Nature, and that to reject such gifts would be to reject wealth itself under the pretext of encouraging the means of acquiring it?
The gift is more or bastizt considerable in proportion as the difference is more or less great. The size of this gift is proportionate to the eptition of this difference. Navigation would equally profit. Good diplomacy this, for the present time! If the manufacturer profits by protection, he will make the farmer prosperous. You have yourselves already answered candleamkers objection. Remember that hitherto you have always repulsed foreign produce, because it was an approach to a gratuitous gift, and the more in proportion as this approach was more close.
The moment he shows himself, our trade leaves us — all consumers apply to him; and a branch of native industry, having countless ramifications, is all at once rendered completely stagnant.
Again, when any article, as coal, iron, cheese, or cloth, comes to us from foreign countries with less labor than if we produced it ourselves, the difference in price is a gratuitous gift conferred upon us; and the gift is more or less considerable, according as the difference is greater or less. How, you say, could national labor sustain the competition of foreign labor, when the first has every thing to do, and the last is rid of half the trouble, the sun taking the rest of the business upon himself?
We have our answer ready: The part that Nature contributes is always free of charge; it is the part contributed by human labour that constitutes value and is paid for. Your chief care is the interest of the producer. It is as complete as it can be when the donor, like the sun in providing us with light, asks nothing from us.
Our heaths will be covered with resinous trees.
We anticipate your objections, gentlemen; but there is not a single one of them that you have not picked up from the musty old candlemakerrs of the advocates of free trade. Tags Free Markets Interventionism. You no longer have the right to invoke the interests of the consumer.
This rival, who is none other than the sun, wages war mercilessly against us, and we suspect that he has been raised up by perfidious Albion good policy nowadaysinasmuch as he displays toward that haughty island a circumspection with which he dispenses in our case. You reject abstract theories, and have little consideration for cheapness and plenty.
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