… is from page 30 of Henry Martyn’s remarkably advanced 1701 pamphlet, Considerations Upon the East-India Trade (original emphasis):
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; to restrain us to only English, is to oblige us to lose the labour of many; the loss of few Men’s labour must needs be less than that of many: Wherefore, if we suffer our selves to consume the Indian, we are not so much impoverish’d as if we were restraind to the Consumption of only English Manufactures.
DBx: No country is made ‘great’ (or ‘great again’) by artificially tying up workers and other resources in the production of goods and services that could be gotten by the use of fewer workers and other resources. And no country is on a ‘sustainable’ path if it so wastes labor and resources.
As Martyn goes on in his pamphlet to argue – and as countless economists, great and obscure, have correctly argued for centuries – workers and resources released from producing goods and services that compete with imports are then freed to produce other goods and services that would otherwise remain unproduced and, hence, unconsumed.
In short, just as no individual is enriched if he contrives to increase the degree of scarcity with which he must deal, so, too, is no group of individuals – including those who constitute a nation – enriched if they contrive to increase the degree of scarcity with which they must deal.
(I thank Doug Irwin for introducing me to Martyn’s pamphlet – a pamphlet that is justly praised in Doug’s 1996 volume, Against the Tide.)