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Foreign Matches and the Rate of Wages for Match-box Making (S367b: 1883)

Editor Charles H. Smith’s Note: Portions (?) of a letter on free trade to the Editor, together with some comments by the Editor, printed on page 3 of The Daily News issue of 15 November 1883. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S367B.htm

     Mr. Alfred R. Wallace writes: "Allow me to ask whether your statement that, if Mr. Bedford's proposal were carried out and no foreign matches used the poor match-box makers would get no better wages, is really accurate? If no foreign matches or match-boxes were used an enormously increased manufacture of English matches and match-boxes would be required. The demand for match-box makers in England would be therefore greater, and this would certainly lead to an increase of their pay. Where is the fallacy in this argument?" Our correspondent’s letter reopens the whole question of Free Trade and Protection. It is obvious that artificially raised profits and wages, besides unjustly taxing the consumer by compelling him to pay a higher price than he otherwise need, would lead to an influx of labour into the trade, and this again through competition to a minimum rate of wages. The principle of excluding foreign articles, moreover, cannot be confined to one article, and the consumer would be taxed by paying artificially increased prices all round.

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