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the disadvantage of the average Southerner. But indeed, the illustration hardly does justice to the expansiveness of the trade which we are now considering. Let us rather suppose the export to consist of that rawest and most extensively demanded material, mechanical power. Let us imagine, for the sake of illustration, Niagara «harnessed» in the service of man to belong wholly to the United States, not in part to Canada; and that by improved means of transmitting force the means of production may be conveyed from Niagara to any department of Canadian industry. If the supply of power from Niagara to Canada were to be increased by some dislocation for instance some impediment to its supply elsewhere, then it might be expected that — in the long run, and abstracting temporary disturbance — the offer on the part of Americans owning Niagara would be met by the demand for additional power on the part of the entrepreneurs in a large and flourishing Canada.
This peculiarity of the quasi-international trade must be borne in mind when it is argued that the transition from a regime of Protection to Free Trade may place a portion of the working-classes in the position of a «nation» for whose exports there has ceased to be a demand. In thus arguing in the course of an exchange of views with Professor Bastable in the «Economic Journal», I ought to have emphasised the peculiarity which has just been illustrated. It is true that I guarded against misapprehension by comparing the increase in freedom of trade to an improvement in machinery, and quoting Mill to the effect that an improvement in machinery may be «very injurious to the labourers» on a supposition «purely ideal»1. But I may have quoted, without sufficient reservation, Ricardo’s conclusion that (in a certain supposed case) «population will become redundant and the situation of the labouring classes will be that of distress and poverty». Ricardo has «been supposing» (as he explains in the context)2 «that improved machinery is suddenly discovered». Moreover the probability of such a case was really different
- «Economic Journal», vol. XI, p. 583. Cfr. ibid, vol. X, p. 392, where the issue is described as «so minute a point in so hypothetical a case».
- Ricardo, Macculloch’s edition, pp. 237, and 241.