A Modest Petition

The New Times, Rwanda's English paper of record, reports today:

East African Business Council (EABC) has asked East African Community (EAC) governments to treat cement as a sensitive product to protect the domestic industry from cheap imports.

The local cement industry is currently faced with high production costs resulting from high energy and labour costs, poor distribution network especially railway transport and inadequate ancillary industries for spare parts and consumables.

The Executive Director of East African Business Council Charles Mbogori said the influx of cheap cement imports from countries with lower production costs will in the long run have negative impact on the local industry.

Here's a satirical petition Frédéric Bastiat wrote in 1845.

From the Manufacturers of Candles, Tapers, Lanterns, Candlesticks, Street Lamps, Snuffers, and Extinguishers, and from the Producers of Tallow, Oil, Resin, Alcohol, and Generally of Everything Connected with Lighting.

To the Honorable Members of the Chamber of Deputies.


You are on the right track. You reject abstract theories and have little regard for abundance and low prices. You concern yourselves mainly with the fate of the producer. You wish to free him from foreign competition, that is, to reserve the domestic market for domestic industry.


We are suffering from the ruinous competition of a foreign rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low price; for the moment he appears, our sales cease, all the consumers turn to him, and a branch of French industry whose ramifications are innumerable is all at once reduced to complete stagnation. This rival, which is none other than the sun, is waging war on us so mercilessly that we suspect he is being stirred up against us by perfidious Albion (excellent diplomacy nowadays!), particularly because he has for that haughty island a respect that he does not show for us.

We ask you to be so good as to pass a law requiring the closing of all windows, dormers, skylights, inside and outside shutters, curtains, casements, bull's-eyes, deadlights, and blinds—in short, all openings, holes, chinks, and fissures through which the light of the sun is wont to enter houses, to the detriment of the fair industries with which, we are proud to say, we have endowed the country, a country that cannot, without betraying ingratitude, abandon us today to so unequal a combat.

You can read the rest of the fairly brief petition here. As you read, just try and not marvel at how little such arguments have changed in the past 160 years.