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Friedrich Bülau's Call for a Market-Oriented Solution to the Problem of Poverty in Germany (1834)

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Agriculture and industry are therefore still far from “achieving the most good for most people.” But as for trade? Is there any need for proof that both domestic trade and world trade are inhibited by a thousand artificial impediments and restrictions, which only its constant struggle for freedom and its characteristic, wonderful pliability have been able to neutralize to some extent? The prohibitive system is the foundation for many states’ trade policy, so why the surprise about stagnation and impoverishment? But there is a supply of a hundred works on this subject, and the best commentaries are supplied by experience. Here [let me make] the simple observation that, even with [all] the artificial impediments accounted for, we are still far from a situation in which trade has overcome the natural inhibitions as victoriously as the latest triumphs of the inventive spirit make possible. The greater speed imparted by the steam engine, the resulting possibly of multiple trade relations, is alone sufficient to infinitely multiply the blessings of trade [both] intrinsically and in its effects on agriculture and industry and on the condition of the population.

Source: Friedrich Bülau, Der Staat und die Industrie. Beiträge zur Gewerbspolitik und Armenpolizei. Leipzig: Göschen, 1834, pp. 22-56.

Original German text reprinted in Die Eigentumslosen, eds. Carl Jantke and Dietrich Hilger. Freiburg and Munich: Verlag Karl Alber, 1965, pp. 256-65.

Translation: Jeremiah Riemer

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