Chap 10e, Part 2: Inequalities by Policy

PART 2: Inequalities occasioned by the Policy of Europe

56 The policy of Europe prevents perfect liberty and creates other more important inequalities.

57 Inequality is done in three ways:

  1. By restraining the competition to fewer than natural
  2. By increasing the competition beyond the natural
  3. By obstructing the free circulation of labour and stock from employment to employment and from place to place.

Reducing the Competition through Corporations and Apprenticeships

58 First, the policy of Europe creates a very important inequality in the employments of labour and stock by restraining the competition to a smaller number.

59 This is done primarily through the exclusive privileges of corporations.

60 The exclusive privilege of an incorporated business restrains the competition in the town where it is established, to those who are qualified or free of the trade.

  • This freedom is obtained by finishing an apprenticeship under a qualified master.
  • The by-laws of the corporation regulate:
    • the number of apprentices per master
    • the number of years each one is obliged to serve
  • Such by-laws intend to restrain the competition in the trade.
  • The limitation of the number of apprentices restrains it directly.
    • A long term of apprenticeship restrains it indirectly by increasing the cost of education.

61 In Sheffield, a corporation by-law states that no master cutler can have more than one apprentice at a time.

  • In Norfolk and Norwich, no master weaver can have more than two apprentices
    • Otherwise, he forfeits £5 a month to the king.
  • No master hatter can have more than two apprentices in England, or in the English plantations,
    • Otherwise, he forfeits £5 a month, half to the king, half his plaintiff.
  • Both these regulations were confirmed by a public law.
    • They are evidently dictated by the same corporation spirit which enacted the Sheffield by-law.
  • The silk weavers in London were only incorporated for a year when they enacted a by-law restraining any master from having more than two apprentices at a time.
    • An act of parliament to required to rescind this by-law.

62 Seven years was the length of apprenticeships in Europe in most of the incorporated trades since ancient times.

  • All such incorporations were called universities from its Latin origin.
  • The university of smiths, the university of tailors, etc. are expressions in the old charters of ancient towns.
  • Those incorporations are now called universities.
    • When they were first established, the length of study needed to obtain the degree of master of arts was copied from the ancient term of apprenticeship in common trades.
    • Seven years under a qualified master is needed to become a master, teacher, or doctor (words anciently synonymous) in the liberal arts, just as seven years was necessary to qualify any person to become a master in a common trade.


63 The Statute of Apprenticeship was from the 5th of Elizabeth.

  • It enacted that no person should exercise any trade, craft, or mystery in England, unless he had previously served at least seven years of apprenticeship.
  • The by-laws of many corporations became the general and public law of all trades in market towns in England.
  • Although this statute was applicable to all of Great Britain, it was interpreted to be limited to market towns.
  • In country villages, a person was allowed to exercise several different trades even without apprenticeship to each.
    • This was caused by the deficiency of labour there.


64 This statute was also strictly interpreted to be limited to those trades established in England before the 5th of Elizabeth.

  • This limitation created rules of police which appear very foolish.
    • For example, it was ruled that a coach-maker cannot employ journeymen to make his coach-wheels or do make them by himself.
      • He must buy them of a master wheel-maker because this trade was exercised before the 5th of Elizabeth.
    • But a wheel-maker who had never been an apprentice to a coach-maker, can employ journeymen or himself to make coaches.
      • Because the trade of a coach-maker was not exercised in England when the statute was made.
  • The manufactures of Manchester, Birmingham, and Wolverhampton were not exercised before the 5th of Elizabeth.
    • They are not included in this statute.


65 In France, the duration of apprenticeships is different in different towns and in different trades.

  • In Paris, five years is the usual term
    • But an apprentice must serve five years more as a journeyman before he can be a master.
      • He is called a companion of his master, in a companionship,

66 In Scotland, there is no general law regarding the duration of apprenticeships.

  • The term is different in different corporations.
  • It may be paid off through a small fine if the term is long
  • In most towns, a very small fine is enough to buy the freedom of any corporation.
  • The weavers of linen and hempen cloth and their related trades, wheel-makers, reel-makers, etc. may exercise their trades in any town corporate without paying any fine.
  • In all towns corporate, all persons are free to sell meat on any lawful day.
  • In Scotland, three years is a common term of apprenticeship.
    • It is the least oppressive of any European country.

67 A person’s own labour is the most sacred and inviolable of all his property, as it is the foundation of all of his other properties.

  • The patrimony of a poor man lies in his hands’ strength and dexterity.
    • Hindering him from employing his strength and dexterity in the way he wishes, without injuring his neighbour, is a violation of this most sacred property.
      • It is an encroachment on the liberty of the worker his potential employer.
      • It hinders the worker from working and the employer from employing what they think proper.
      • His employability should be entrusted to his employers instead of to lawgivers.
        • The lawgiver’s concern that the improper worker might be employed, is impertinent and  oppressive.


68 Long apprenticeships do not guarantee sufficient workmanship.

  • Insufficient workmanship is generally the effect of fraud, not of inability.
  • The longest apprenticeship can give no security against fraud.
  • Different regulations are necessary to prevent this abuse:
    • the sterling mark on plate
    • the stamps on linen and woollen cloth
  • These give the buyer greater security than any statute of apprenticeship.
  • The buyer looks at these and never asks whether the worker had seven years apprenticeship.


69 Long apprenticeships has no tendency to form young people to industry.

  • A journeyman who works by the piece is likely to be industrious because he derives a benefit from his industry.
  • An apprentice is likely to be idle because he has no immediate interest to be otherwise.
  • In the inferior employments, the sweets of labour all consist in the recompence of labour.
  • They who are soonest able to enjoy the sweets of labour are likely the soonest to conceive a relish for it.
    • They are likely to acquire the early habit of industry.
  • A young man naturally becomes averse to labour when he receives no benefit from it for a long time.
    • The boys who are put out as apprentices from public charities are generally bound for more than the usual number of years,
      • They generally turned out very idle and worthless.


70 Apprenticeships were unknown to the ancients.

  • The reciprocal duties of master and apprentice form a big article in every modern code.
  • The Roman law is silent with regard to them.
    • There is no Greek or Latin word equal to ‘apprentice’.
    • It is currently defined as a servant bound to work for a master at a particular trade for a term of years, provided that the master shall teach him that trade.


Better Practical Education

71 Long apprenticeships are unnecessary.

  • The arts such as those of making clocks and watches, contain no mystery needing a long course of instruction.
  • The first invention of such beautiful machines must have been the work of deep and long thought.
    • It may be considered as among the happiest efforts of human ingenuity.
  • But when such machines have been invented and well understood, it only requires a few weeks of lessons to explain completely to any young man:
    • how to use the instruments, and
    • how to construct the machines.
  • In the common mechanic trades, a few days instruction might certainly be sufficient.
  • Dexterity cannot be acquired without much practice and experience.
  • A young man’s education would be more effective, less tedious and expensive if he began working diligently as a journeyman.
    • He would be paid in proportion to the little work he could do.
    • He would pay for the materials he might spoil through awkwardness and inexperience.
  • The master would be a loser.
    • In this way, he would lose seven years worth of wages of his apprentice.
    • The apprentice would save seven years of apprenticeship expence.
  • In the end, the apprentice himself might be a loser.
    • His trade could be so easily learned that he would have more competitors.
    • His wages as a complete worker would be much less than without competition.
  • The increased competition would reduce the  profits of the masters and the wages of the worker
    • The trades, the crafts, the mysteries, would all be losers.
    • But the public would be a gainer.
      • Because the work of all artificers would become cheaper this way.


72 All corporations and most of corporation laws have been established to prevent this reduction of price by restraining that free competition which would most certainly occasion it.

  • This price reduction would lower wages and profit.
  • Only the town corporate’s authority was needed to establish a corporation in ancient times.
  • In England, a charter from the king was necessary.
    • But this prerogative of the crown was to extort money from the subject, than for defending against oppressive monopolies.
    • The charter was readily granted upon paying a fine to the king.
  • Artificers or traders who incorporated into adulterine guilds without a charter, were obliged to pay an annual fine.
    • They were disfranchised but obliged to fine annually to the king for permission to exercise their usurped privileges.
  • The immediate inspection of all corporations and their by-laws, belonged to the town corporate where they were established.
  • Their discipline did not come from the king.
    • It came from that greater incorporation.


73 The government of towns corporate was in the hands of traders and artificers.

  • It was their interest to always keep it understocked with their own work.
  • Each class was eager to establish regulations for this purpose.
    • Each consented that every other class do the same.
    • Each was obliged to buy goods from every other class  within the town at a higher price than usual.
      • In recompence, they were enabled to sell their own just as dearer.
      • None of them were losers by these regulations.
  • They were all great gainers in their dealings with the countryside.
    • Those dealings enriched every town.


74 Every town draws its whole subsistence from the countryside.

  • It pays for these in two ways:
  1. By the manufacturing trade or by sending back some manufactured goods to the countryside.
    • The price of such goods is increased by the wages of the town’s workmen and profits of their employers.
  2. By the inland and foreign trade or by sending to the countryside some of the rude produce and manufactured goods of other provinces of the same country.
    • The price of such produce and goods are increased by the wages of the transporters and by the profits of the merchants who employ them.

Wages and profits make up the gain of both.

  • The regulations which unnaturally increase those wages and profits enable the town to buy more of the produce of the countryside’s labour with fewer of the produce of the town’s labour.
    • They give the town’s traders and artificers an advantage over the landlords, farmers, and labourers in the countryside.
    • They break down that natural equality of commerce between them.
  • The whole produce of the labour of society is divided between the people of the town and those of the countryside.
    • By those regulations, a greater share of it is given to the town and a less to the countryside.

75 The amount of goods annually exported from the town is the price which it really pays for the materials it annually imports.

  • The dearer its exports, the cheaper its imports.
  • The industry of the town becomes more advantageous than that of the countryside.

76 Everywhere in Europe, the industry of towns is more advantageous than the industry of the countryside.

  • This is proven by a simple observation, without the need to enter into any computations:
    • In every European country, we find at least 100 people who grew rich from small beginnings by trade and manufactures or the industry of towns, for one who has done so by agriculture or the industry of the countryside.
  • Wages and profits must evidently be greater in towns than in the countryside.
    • Since stock and labour naturally seek the most advantageous employment, they naturally go to the town and desert the countryside as much as possible.

77 The townspeople, being collected into one place, can easily combine.

  • The most insignificant trades in towns have been incorporated.
  • The symptoms of the corporation spirit are:
    • the jealousy of strangers
    • the aversion to take apprentices
    • the aversion to communicate the secret of their trade
  • Such spirit prevails in insignificant trades.
    • It teaches them, by voluntary associations and agreements, to prevent that free competition which their by-laws cannot prohibit.
      • The trades with a few workers easily encounter such combinations.
  • Half a dozen wool-combers might be necessary to keep 1,000 spinners and weavers at work.
    • If those wool-combers combine not to take apprentices, they can:
      • engross the employment
      • reduce the whole manufacture into slavery to themselves
      • raise the price of their labour unnaturally.

78 The people of the countryside are dispersed in distant places and cannot easily combine.

  • They have never been incorporated.
    • The corporation spirit never has prevailed among them.
  • Husbandry is the great trade of the countryside.
    • No apprenticeship was ever necessary for husbandry.
    • Husbandry may require nearly as much knowledge and experience as the fine arts and the liberal professions.
      • The innumerable writings about husbandry in all languages proves it was never an easy subject even among the most learned nations.
      • Those writings have so much knowledge of complicated operations known by the common farmer, despite some authors speaking against farmers contemptuously.
    • On the contrary, all the operations of the most common mechanic trade can be completely explained in a pamphlet of very few pages.
      • They can be explained by figures and illustrations.
        • In the history of the arts, now publishing by the French academy of sciences, several of them are actually explained this way.
  • Operations which vary with the weather and other accidents require much more judgement and discretion than those which are always the same.


79 Many inferior branches of country labour require much more skill and experience than most of the mechanic trades.

  • A mechanic works with tools and materials of the same temper.
  • A country labourer who ploughs the ground with horses or oxen, work with tools of very different health, strength, and temper.
    • The condition of his materials are as variable as his instruments.
      • Both require to be managed with much judgement and discretion which the common ploughman has.
        • He is generally regarded with stupidity and ignorance.
        • He is less accustomed to social intercourse than the mechanic who lives in a town.
        • His voice and language are more uncouth and more difficult to understand.
        • He understands a greater variety of objects than the mechanic.
          • The mechanic performs a few very simple operations all day.
  • The superiority of the lower ranks of people in the countryside over those of the town, is known to everyone who has conversed much with both.
    • In China and India, both the rank and the wages of country labourers are superior to those of most artificers and manufacturers.
      • They would probably be so everywhere, if corporation laws and the corporation spirit did not prevent it.


80 Aside from corporations and corporation laws, other regulations cause the superiority of the industry of the towns over the industry of the countryside in Europe.

  • The high duties imported goods add to this superiority.
  • Corporation laws raise prices without the fear of being under-sold by their own countrymen.
    • Duties secure them equally against the industry of foreigners.
  • The enhancement of price by corporation laws and high duties are finally paid by the landlords, farmers, and labourers of the countryside, who have seldom opposed such monopolies.
    • They do not have the inclination nor fitness to combine.
    • They are easily persuaded by the clamour and sophistry of merchants and manufacturers that the latter’s interests are the general interest of the whole society.

81 In Great Britain, the superiority of the industry of the towns were greater in the beginning of the present century.

  • Currently, agricultural wages are nearer to those of manufacturing wages.
    • Agricultural profits are nearer to those of trading and manufacturing stock.
    • This change was caused by the extraordinary encouragement given to the industry of the towns.
  • In time, the stock accumulated in towns becomes so great that it can no longer be employed with the ancient profit in the same industry.
    • That industry has its limits like every other.
    • The increase of stock, by increasing the competition, necessarily reduces the profit.
      • The lowering of profits in the town forces stock out to the countryside.
        • It creates a new demand for country labour and raises its wages.
        • It then spreads itself over the land.
        • The expense originally from the town, is then employed in agriculture and partly restored to the countryside.
  • I shall show that everywhere in Europe, the greatest improvements of the countryside was caused by such overflowings of the stock originally accumulated in towns.
  • Although some countries have attained opulence, this attainment is:
    • necessarily slow and uncertain
    • liable to be disturbed and interrupted by many accidents
    • contrary to nature and reason
  • Book 4 explains the interests, prejudices, laws and customs which have caused it.


82 People of the same trade seldom meet together

  • But when they do, they conspire against the public to raise prices.
  • It is impossible to prevent such meetings by any law.
  • The law should do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.


83 A regulation which obliges all those of the same trade to enter their names and addresses in a public register, facilitates such assemblies.

  • It connects individuals who might never otherwise be known to one another
  • It allows every man of the trade to find every other man of it.

84 A regulation which enables people of the same trade to tax themselves in order to provide for their poor, sick, widows and orphans renders such assemblies necessary.

  • Because it gives them a common interest to manage.


85 An incorporation renders assemblies necessary.

  • It makes the act of the majority binding on the whole.
  • In a free trade, a combination cannot be established except through the unanimous consent of every single trader.
    • It can only last until a single trader changes his mind.
  • A corporation’s by-laws can limit competition more effectively and more durably than any voluntary combination.


86 The pretence that corporations are necessary for the better government of trade has no  foundation.

  • The real discipline exercised over a worker is not from his corporation, but from his customers.

    • He fears losing their employment.
      • This fear restrains his frauds and corrects his negligence.
      • An exclusive corporation weakens this discipline.
        • Let workers behave well or ill.
        • This is why no tolerable workers can be found in large incorporated towns, even in the most necessary trades.
        • Good work can be expected in the suburbs where workers have no exclusive privilege.
          • They only have their character to depend on.
          • You must then smuggle it into the town as well as you can.

87 This is how the the policy of Europe restrains the competition in some employments.

  • It creates a very important inequality in the employments of labour and stock.

Next: Book 1, Chapter 10F, Part 2 Inequalities by Policy: Wage Subsidies

Words: 3,284

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