Petition on behalf of America’s candle-makers
In 1845, on behalf of France’s candle-makers, the French economist, Frederic Bastiat, published a satire known as “The Petition of the Candle-makers.” The petition was addressed to the French Chamber of Deputies. Bastiat argued that the sun was producing so much light as to drive French candle-makers out of business.
To combat the adverse effect of the sun, Bastiat wrote, “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 [France’s candle-makers].”
A modern-day Frederic Bastiat might appeal to the U.S. Congress on behalf of U.S. candle-makers as follows:
We are suffering from the ruinous competition of foreign rivals who apparently work under conditions far superior to our own. Even at the current price of $140 dollars-per-barrel, we consume 21 million barrels each day. That is enough oil to light the Las Vegas Strip and even the 10,000-square-foot home of Al Gore and the 28,200-square-foot home of John Edwards.
Therefore, in addition to asking that you 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,” we ask that you take steps to increase the price of crude oil by restricting America’s ability to add to its oil supply. We ask you to be aware that a return to crude oil priced at $30-per-barrel or gas at $1.20-per-gallon would encourage the use of electric-powered lighting to the detriment of those hard-working Americans who produce “green” candles from tallow, beeswax and cotton.
We ask you to continue your prohibitions against off-shore oil exploration in over 80-percent of our coastal waters (est. 102 billion barrels), against oil exploration in 2,200-acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) (est. 10 billion barrels), against the issuance of permits to produce oil from shale in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming (est. 800 billion barrels) and we urge you to add prohibitions against the use of horizontal drilling to produce crude oil from the Bakken Oil Formation (est. 10-500 billion barrels) that lies under North Dakota and Montana. We ask that no more gasoline refineries or nuclear power plants be permitted. Please prohibit our 200 years of coal from conversion into synthetic fuels.
By returning to a tallow/beeswax/cotton-based economy, the production of cattle, sheep and pigs will be increased. We shall see an increase in cleared fields, meat, wool, leather, and especially manure which, prior to ethanol, was the basis of all agricultural wealth.
If America consumes more “green” oils, we shall see an expansion of the olive oil, corn, cotton and rapeseed industries. These rich yet soil-exhausting plants will come at just the right time to enable us to put to profitable use the increased fertility that the breeding of cattle will impart to the land.
Our moors will be covered with resinous trees. Numerous swarms of bees will gather from our mountains the perfumed treasures that today waste their fragrance, like the flowers from which they emanate. Thus, there is not one branch of agriculture that would not undergo a great expansion.
But what shall we say of the specialties of American manufacture? Henceforth you will behold gilding, bronze, and crystal in candlesticks, in lamps, in chandeliers, in candelabra sparkling in spacious shopping malls and on the Home Shopping Network.
It needs but a little reflection, gentlemen, to be convinced that there is perhaps not one American from the wealthy stockholder of the Tallow-R-Us Corp. to the humblest vendor of matches, whose condition would not be improved by the success of our petition.”
Gentle Congresspersons, by granting our petition, you can return America to the way it was prior to1935 -- before President Franklin D. Roosevelt imposed the Rural Electric Administration (REA) upon us.
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, studied government and politics at Harvard’s JFK School of Government. He is a former assistant professor of history and political science at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
©2008. William Hamilton.