COBDEN AND THE LEAGUE

The construction of an aqueduct was considered; however, the water carriers found out that their social rights would have vanished.

John Lewis Ricardo, translated by Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 3, pages 298 to 309 (in French)
Covent Garden, May 1st 1844

Two speeches from that day were translated here, one by John Lewis Ricardo and the other by Richard Cobden. I shall not dwell on the latter, which goes back to the idea from George Thompson on slave sugar and insists on the cynicism of the protectionists who impose a differential tariff on slave sugar while ignoring the fate of coffee or cotton production.

The first speech from which today’s quote is extracted tackles the argument of social rights that consist in “stealing others’ property and assert that there is a right to it because it has been stolen for a long time”. Be it through the illustration of the French rag-and-bone men who fought the French government project of implementing a refuse collection scheme or the Spanish water carriers who ruined an aqueduct project, the issue is the same and continues to this day. When a fringe of the population benefit from a privilege, it will always fight against its repeal. This phenomenon has been proven once again with the resurgence of protectionism initiated by Donald Trump that is only increased under the presidency of his successor Joe Biden. It is so prevalent and understood by Frédéric Bastiat that it will be at the core of the introduction to the Economic Sophisms.

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