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The nature of our system of currency, which, allowing not only the Bank of England, but all other private individuals and bodies of men, to create and issue just as much paper as they please, there is so much of change, alternation, and vicissitude, that it is difficult for things to remain a sufficient length of time in the same bent and bias to allow of so large an undertaking as the reduction of the whole of our permanent debt to a 2½ per cent stock. 2. The second obstacle to a reduction of the permanent debt to a 2½ per cent. stock is to be found in the cornlaws; and these operate three ways. First, by narrowing and limiting the market for the products of our manufacturing industry, they lower profits and wages, and so diminish the income of the community, and this both absolutely and proportionally. There is less trade, and this trade is carried on at a reduced rate of profit, and so that, to all the extent of the diminution of trade, our absolute income is diminished at the same rate of profit, and, to all the extent of the lowering of profit, our proportional income is diminished upon the same amount of trade. Or otherwise, thus, by the mere extension of trade consequent on the repeal of the corn-laws, there would be an increase in the total income of the community if even there should be no rise in the rate of profit. And by a rise of profits there would be an increase in the income of the community, if even there should be no extension of trade. How great then must be the increase of income, when, consequent on a repeal of the corn-laws, there would be both a rise of profits and an extension of trade! Secondly, the corn-laws cause an addiction to the Government taxes, and this in two ways. 1. By increasing the expenditure of the government in their purchases of provisions for the army and navy. This increase amounts to a considerable sum even in time of peace, and in war it would be enormous. 2. By rendering all government in Ireland impracticable, except by means of a military force, which is the occasion of taxes; or the jobbing expenditure of large sums of money for the prosecution of what are called public works; and this again is the occasion of taxes. Now that this proceeds from the corn-laws may very easily be made appear, for it must be plain, to every one who will but for a moment turn his reflections on the matter, that the alone original cause of the distress of the Irish peasantry, and which, in very fact, occasions more misery to be crowded into one single province of Ireland than in all the rest of Europe put together, is the excessive competition for land; and for this there neither is nor can be but one remedy, and that is to increase the quantity. Now this would immediately be accomplished by a repeal of the corn-laws: for, as to import corn is virtually to import the land which produced that corn, so is it clear that every importation of corn or food of any description is a virtual addition to the productive soil of the country. And therefore, as the more corn we imported in return for our manufactures, the greater virtually would be the quantity of land imported, so the less also would be the competition fo r land, till at length there would be a considerable fall in the rent of the land in Ireland, and the Irish peasant would rise in the scale of existence and be happy. The evil, therefore, being in the competition for and consequent high rent of land, and as this evil can only be removed by a repeal of the corn-laws, so is it of plain consequence that, as long as these laws exist, Ireland must be ruled by plain downright force, or by a variety of miserable tricks and expedients all terminating in a waste of money, a corruption of manners, and the total perversion of all sound public principle. To this pass, therefore, are things come, that, in order to benefit a small know of haughty, unfeeling, rapacious landlords, the well-being of millions is disregarded, famine and misery stalk through the land, and all good government in Ireland is impossible.
Thus have we stated two things in which the corn-laws are prejudicial; - the first, that they diminish the income of the community, - the second, that, by increasing the expenditure of the government, they lead to the necessity of additional taxation. The third and last thing to be noticed is the heavy tax imposed by the corn-laws in the enhanced price of food, the consequence of which is, that, so large a portion of the labour and income of the community being expended in the acquisition of the bare necessaries of life, there remain less for other purposes, and the less, by consequence, is the power to pay the taxes of the government. And therefore, as, while the corn-laws increase the public burdens, they not only diminish the income of the community, but also render that income less productive, it is impossible for the wit of man or devil to devise a scheme of things more essentially pernicious and deadly destructive of the best interests of society. And as regards, the present question, by increasing the expenditure of the government, and rendering its income uncertain and precarious it must necessarily have great and sinister influence on all operations of finance, and so as to render the reduction of the whole of the permanent debt to 2½ per cent. a matter of great doubt and difficulty. But repeal the corn-laws, and every other law that interferes with the admission and supply of food, and so great and unlimited would be the prosperity of the country, so flourishing the revenue under almost any scheme of taxation, so boundless the resources of the Government, and so superior its credit to all private credit, that the period would soon arrive when the 3 per cents. would be reduce to 2½ per cent., and that it even would be quite easy to float 20,000,000l. or 25,000,000l of unfunded debt at 2 per cent. interest. These laws are not to be vindicated upon any principle of reason and equity. As against the foreigner the British landlord cannot pretend that he has a right to protection upon the ground of his being more heavily taxed; for, quite the reverse, his burdens comparatively are a mere song, and it is most certain that the landed interest of this country is less heavily taxed than the same interest in any other part of Europe. As little can be lay claim to protection upon the score of his sustaining peculiar burdens which are not borne by the rest of the British community. For here the matter stands this way: - There is no tax, either public or local, paid by the landed interest, which is not also paid by the other classes of the community. There are certain taxes, both public and local, paid by the other classes, which are not paid by the landed interest. And of the public taxes, which are common to all classes, the landed interest pays at least 4,000,000l. per annum short of its fair proportion. And, therefore, as the landlords can show no title to protection upon the score of peculiar burdens, either as against foreigners or their fellow-subjects, but that all the facts of the case run clean the other way, it is manifest that the corn-laws have no other foundation than greedy selfishness – the bold insolence and impudence of a knot of unprincipled men, who, by means of the defects of our electoral system, have acquired a power to which they naturally have not pretensions – gross tyranny and injustice.
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