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John Prince-Smith: Excerpts from his Collected Writings (1843-63)

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But there is another point of view, from which the reprehensible nature of the protective system shines forth. If a profit really were to accrue to certain producers under this system, at the consumers' cost, then no government would have the right to implement anything of the kind. — Government is there to protect everyone in enjoying the fruits of his own industriousness. It not only oversteps the powers of the state administration, but also runs contrary to [government’s] primary duty, when earned possessions are taken away from one person in order to be given to another. The government can take from its subjects' surplus funds insofar as it needs the means to maintain order and security; it is also entitled to demand an additional sacrifice in order to promote general charitable activities, to the extent that an advantage outweighing the sacrifice arises for those burdened thereby. But its authority does not extend any further. Even if certain capitalists would gain an advantage from using three million thalers and 5000 workers for a beet sugar factory, the government does not have the right, in order to make this possible, to burden all the other subjects to the tune of a million thalers annually in order to cover the resulting tax loss. If the most basic wisdom did not warn against this, then most common feeling of justice would have to forbid it. That such things are happening is attributable not only to the distorted views of financial officials, but also to those of almost all peoples everywhere. — The harmfulness of the protective system is certainly appreciated by the finest Prussian statesmen. Dr. Borwing even says point blank in his report about the German Customs Union that the general conviction of department heads in Prussia is against protective legislation. An even more reliable testimony for the Prussian government's enlightened trade principles is meanwhile provided by a ministerial instruction from December 26, 1808, wherein it is stated:

“It is always most conducive for the state and its individual members to let trade take its natural course in every instance, which means: not to favor and improve any [trade] through special subsidies, but also not to limit any in its creation, management, and expansion.”

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