The plan that started out so gravely to “stabilize” prices and conditions brings incomparably greater instability than the free forces of the market could possibly have brought. Nobody would be any better off, in the long run, than if wages had not been raised at all. (I hear some reader asking: “Why not solve this by giving tariff protection to all producers?” But the fallacy here is that this cannot help producers uniformly, and cannot help at all domestic producers who already “outsell” foreign producers: these efficient producers must necessarily suffer from the diversion of purchasing power brought about by the tariff.). The indignation shown by many people today at the mention of the very word “profits” indicates how little understanding there is of the vital function that profits play in our economy. The present valuation will often depend upon what people expect the future quantity of money to be. We have not taken an argument for the imposition of a new tariff in order to bring a new industry into existence, but an argument for the retention of a tariff that has already brought an industry into existence, and cannot be repealed without hurting somebody. It says precisely the things which need most saying and says them with rare courage and integrity. But nearly everyone refuses to generalize this observation, for it means that he will have to pay more for the products of others. Profits induce companies to become more efficient and continuously improve. ", [Special Edition for The Foundation for Economic Education, Incl, Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, Pocket Books, Inc., Rockefeller Center, N.Y. In the long run it always reduces real wages, because it reduces efficiency, production and wealth. An elementary fallacy. It plants the seeds of fascism and communism. Domestic trade is also conducted in the main by crossing off checks and other claims against each other through clearing houses. If that is the outcome, then the consumers of that commodity will be as well supplied with it as they were before. It strikes wantonly in all directions. Some of it was based on the belief that longer hours were harmful to efficiency. The total sum that I realized from my larger output might decline. This increases the average cost of producing the product. Many current economic commentators across the political spectrum have credited Hazlitt with foreseeing the collapse of the global economy which occurred more than 50 years after the initial publication of Economics in One Lesson. But the government can give no financial help to business that it does not first or finally take from business. It is useless to deny that a tariff does benefit—or at least can benefit—special interests. It is at least possible for unions to make their gains in the short run at the expense of employers and investors. The tailor does not attempt to make his own shoes, but buys them of the shoemaker. It will come to an end, actually, not so much in the way indicated in our hypothetical illustration, as by the forcing of marginal firms out of business entirely, the growth of unemployment, and the forced readjustment of wages and profits to the point where the prospect of normal (or abnormal) profits leads to a resumption of employment and production. Higher production costs and scarcer supplies will tend to raise prices, so that workers can buy less with the same dollar wages; on the other hand, the increased unemployment will shrink demand and hence tend to lower prices. This is the error often made by the classical economists. Hazlitt’s focus on non-governmental solutions, strong — and strongly reasoned — anti-deficit … But if they are in fact merely men and women who are looking for permanent jobs and willing to accept them at the old rate, then they are workers who would be shoved into worse jobs than these in order to enable the striking workers to enjoy better ones. All of them find it for their interest to employ their whole industry in a way in which they have some advantage over their neighbors, and to purchase with a part of its produce, or what is the same thing, with the price of a part of it, whatever else they have occasion for. On the one hand, we try to reduce the cost of transportation between England and America, or Canada and the United States, by developing faster and more efficient ships, better roads and bridges, better locomotives and motor trucks. By a minimum wage of, say, 75 cents an hour, we have forbidden anyone to work forty hours in a week for less than $30. Both of these are widely used as college textbooks. Perhaps in an individual case it may work out all right. Obviously, think the people who see only what hits them in the eye, he is providing less than half as much employment as Alvin, and the other $25,000 is as useless as if it did not exist. This means that, though it takes fewer people to make the same number of overcoats as before, more overcoats are now being made than before. It would probably have been better all around if the government in the first place had frankly subsidized their wages on the private work they were already doing. We shall examine the effect of some of these methods when we come to the broader discussion of government commodity controls. The war, in short, will change the post-war direction of effort; it will change the balance of industries; it will change the structure of industry. Thus it is urged that the farmers suffer, and that they, rather than the speculators, should get the advantage of the higher average price. If a 30 per cent increase in hourly wages all around the circle forces a 30 per cent increase in prices, labor can buy no more of the product than it could at the beginning; and the merry-go-round must start all over again. In the eyes of most Congressmen the farmers simply cannot get enough credit. “The economic goal of any nation, as of any individual, is to get the greatest results with the least effort.”, The real effect of a tariff: “It is not merely that all its visible gains are offset by less obvious but no less real losses. If they sold only the 80 units they produced in the first year (and there were no rise in prices caused by unsatisfied demand) they would certainly not be foolish enough to build their production plans on the assumption that they were going to sell 100 units in the second year. For many things that seem to be true when we concentrate on a single economic group are seen to be illusions when the interests of everyone, as consumer no less than as producer, are considered. The faith in all these policies, it will be found, springs from two acts of shortsightedness. Can practice division and specialization of labor: father hunts, mother prepares food, children collect firewood. What other result could we expect from deliberately erecting artificial obstacles to trade and transportation? The first thing to be noticed about this table is that total production increases each year because of the saving, and would not have increased without it. But the provision in the Federal law, that an employer must pay a worker a 50 per cent premium above his regular hourly rate of wages for all hours worked in any week above forty, was not based primarily on the belief that forty-five hours a week, say, was injurious either to health or efficiency. There are legitimate productivity enhancing developments like technological advances that do lead to greater output (some of which are the result of wars and other calamities). The kind of government services then supplied in return, which among other things safeguard production itself, more than compensate for this. Good volumes in this class, which will bring the reader abreast of recent refinements in economic thought, are Frederic Benham’s Economics (525 pages) and Raymond T. Bye’s Principles of Economics (632 pages). The inefficient marginal producer thus artificially kept in that line of production continues to tie up land, labor, and capital that could much more profitably and efficiently be devoted to other uses. In their various ways they all dilate upon the advantages of destruction. As long as any of these conditions remain unfulfilled, there will be indefinite room for more capital. The government may try to meet this difficulty through subsidies. But the overwhelming majority will be deceiving themselves. Arbitrary subdivisions of labor occur when trade unions try to carve out jurisdictional areas of labor monopoly (e.g. Consumptive spending and investment are then both contracted. The labor union leaders who demand shorter weeks to “spread the work” usually recognize this, and therefore they put the proposal forward in a form in which everyone is supposed to eat his cake and have it too. It would be even more unsettling if former savers suddenly switched their demand from capital goods to consumers’ goods. This rationing cannot stop with consumers. There are scores of domestic industries or of exporting industries that have no tariff protection. If we assume that the men who would otherwise have been retained in the armed forces are no longer needed for defense, then their retention would have been sheer waste. He was … But he has just that much less money left over to spend on something that would employ somebody else. Now let us look at the matter the other way round, and see the effect of imposing a tariff in the first place. (This is precisely, however, as we shall later see, what we already do in the case of “non-recourse” government loans to farmers.). Despite the fact that this book was published right after World War II, I found myself discomforted by how little we have learned from the mistakes of the past. But the same unsettlement, as we have already observed, would be caused in the capital goods industries by a sudden and substantial decrease in savings. You are simply cutting down “the national income” and helping to bring about or intensify a depression. For they are solved by a system under which each consumer makes his own demand and casts a fresh vote, or a dozen fresh votes, every day; whereas bureaucrats would try to solve it by having made for the consumers, not what the consumers themselves wanted, but what the bureaucrats decided was good for them. On one hand, it is a source of comfort to know that human folly is unique to our era. Some of them argue that this result will improve the position of poor debtors as compared with rich creditors. Hitler provided full employment with a huge armament program. Rather its effort is to show that many of the ideas which now pass for brilliant innovations and advances are in fact mere revivals of ancient errors, and a further proof of the dictum that those who are ignorant of the past are condemned to repeat it. The argument for “parity” prices ran roughly like this. In 1873 Bessemer steel in England , where its price had not been enhanced by protective duties, commanded $80 per ton; in 1886 it was profitably manufactured and sold in the same country for less than $20 per ton. Government no longer financially supports the soldiers. It confuses and deceives almost everyone, including even those who suffer by it. They consist of mortgages; of installment credits for the purchase of automobiles, refrigerators, radios, tractors and other farm machinery, and of bank loans made to carry the farmer along until he is able to harvest and market his crop and get paid for it. The result would then be the same as if the working week had been reduced without an increase in hourly wage rates. It is sometimes argued, for example, that machines create more jobs than would otherwise have existed. Apart from this negligible hoarding of cash, then (and even this exception might be thought of as a direct “investment” in money itself) “savings” and “investment” are brought into equilibrium with each other in the same way that the supply of and demand for any commodity are brought into equilibrium. More bridge builders; fewer automobile workers, radio technicians, clothing workers, farmers. He now sells his sweaters for $15 each, but English manufacturers could sell their sweaters of the same quality for $10. Here I am afraid that we shall have to be dogmatic, and point out that such pleasant dreams in the past have always been shattered by national insolvency or a runaway inflation. If the money was raised by taxation, we saw, then for every dollar that the government spent on public works one less dollar was spent by the taxpayers to meet their own wants, and for every public job created one private job was destroyed. It does not necessarily follow that wage-earners would make no relative gains. But in terms of the actual production and exchange of real things it is not. What justification could there possibly be, in fact, for asking the taxpayers to take the risks while permitting private capitalists to keep the profits? It is not true that it benefits all producers as such. Test. They think of “purchasing power” merely in terms of money. Producers cannot make a living and will go out of business. 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