The question is whether legislative power and political influence is to remain with the predators or with the working man.

Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 3, pages 38 to 56

After the presentation of what the Anti Corn Law League was, Frédéric Bastiat describes what the reaction of the English government has been. In the first place, the government has attempted to appease tensions by “offering” advantages to the people. This is the classic reaction that we can still observe nowadays whereby the electorate is cajoled with “gifts” (that they pay for themselves). However, the League pursued the agitation and demanded for justice to be substituted to charity.

This is when Robert Peel decided to engage reforms of the tax and protectionist system. Frédéric Bastiat was no fool about the politician’s aspects of the English Premier but recognises in him the tactical sensitivity that will allow to reach the objective of free-trade. He attributes the ongoing reforms to the agitation by the League, which was not content with the first reforms and shows how Sir Robert implemented them while sparing the aristocracy but ended up being in the situation where halting the reforms was not an option. The success of the drop in tariffs on imports and exports as well as the implementation of a provisory income tax to compensate the Treasury for lost revenues will lead to the repeal of the Corn Law. Today’s quote reflects the fact that at the time of writing, the reforms were in progress. History will show that the convictions of Frédéric Bastiat were correct.

Pages 1 to 6 – Pages 6 to 20 – Pages 20 to 30 – Pages 30 to 38 – Pages 38 to 56 – Pages 56 to 72 – Pages 72 to 80

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