Economizing on Resource Use, Including the Use of Labor, Is Key to Prosperity

by Don Boudreaux on May 20, 2009

in Trade

I’m utterly delighted to have just found on line a pdf version of Henry Martyn’s 1701 pamphlet Considerations on the East-India Trade.  This work was first brought to my attention by Doug Irwin’s indispensable book Against the Tide (1996).  Doug quotes much from Martyn and even suggests that Martyn’s “analytical contribution to the case for free trade” might surpass even that of Adam Smith.

It’s only now, though, that I found Martyn’s pamphlet.  I will read it ASAP.

Here’s one of my favorites of the Martyn quotations appearing in Doug’s book:

Things may be imported from India by fewer hands than as good wou’d be made in England; so that to permit the Consumption of Indian Manufactures, is to permit the loss of few Men’s labour…  a Law to restrain us to use only English Manufactures, is to oblige us to make them first, is to oblige us to provide for our Consumption by the labour of many, what might as well be done by that of few; is to oblige us to consume the labour of many when that of few might be sufficient.
….
If the same Work is done by one, which was done before by three; if the other two are forc’d to sit still, the Kingdom got nothing before by the Labour of the two, and therefore loses nothing by their sitting still.

(This quotation is found on page 57 of Doug’s book, but it is quoted here as it appears in the on-line version of Martyn’s pamphlet.)

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