Friday, January 16, 2009

Things that challenge things I believe

This is, of course, the most interesting class of things.

I'm reading Power and Plenty at the moment. I generally think protectionism is a bad thing. But on p.347 it is argued that Britain's rise to wealth during the Industrial Revolution owed something to protectionism: that the imports of raw materials were allowed freely but those of manufactured goods restricted, which boosted the nascent manufacturing sector. That does, in fact, seem logical - though of course a cost would have been borne by consumers who would have been forced to pay artificially higher prices for manufactured goods. However, so great a benefit as a successful Industrial Revolution, one that enriched everyone, is a powerful counterweight to this disadvantage.

That does, of course, rely on the assumption that these restrictions on imports had a significant effect on the course of the Industrial Revolution, and that isn't quantified in the book.


dearieme said...

So the whole argument rests on an untested assumption. Great.

Trooper Thompson said...

I would suggest you read Henry Carey's 'the harmony of interests', which you can find on Google books. It may interest you - or indeed challenge your views!