Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on November 25, 2021

in Trade

… is from David Ames Wells’s “Free Trade,” an entry in the 1899 edition of John J. Lalor’s massive Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States:

But does anybody know of any one who is not in favor of good roads and bridges, of swift and safe lines of railroads and steamships, of telegraphs and newspapers? But roads and bridges, and steamships and railroads, and telegraphs and newspapers, are merely agencies for effecting and facilitating the interchange of ideas and commodities; and it amounts to precisely the same general result, whether we make the interchange of commodities costly and difficult by interposing deserts, swamps, unbridged streams, bad roads or bands of robbers between producers and consumers, or whether, for the benefit of some private interest that has done nothing to merit it, we impose a toll on the commodities transported, and call it a tariff. A 20 per cent. duty may fairly be considered as the representative equivalent of a bad road; a 50 per cent., of a broad, deep and rapid river, without any proper facilities for crossing; a 75 per cent., a swamp flanking such a river on both sides….

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