A:

The "Candle Maker's Petition" is a satire of protectionist tariffs written the by great French economist, Frederic Bastiat. In many ways, it expanded on the free market argument against mercantilism set forth by Adam Smith, but Bastiat's target was government tariffs that were levied to protect domestic industries from competition. In Bastiat's "Candle Maker's Petition", all the people involved in the French lighting industry, including "the manufacturers of candles, tapers, lanterns, sticks, street lamps, snuffers and extinguishers, and from producers of tallow, oil, resin, alcohol, and generally of everything connected with lighting" call upon the French government to take protective action against the unfair competition of the sun.

They argue that forcing people to close "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" will lead to a higher consumption of candles and related products. In turn, they reason, the industries that those in the lighting industry depend on for materials will have greater sales, as will their dependent suppliers, and so on until everyone is better off without the sun.

This satirical essay suggests that forcing people to pay for something when a free alternative is available is often a waste of resources. In this case, the money that people spend on additional lighting products would indeed boost profit for candle makers, but because this expenditure is not required, it is wasteful, and diverts money from other products. Rather than producing wealth, instituting the candle maker's petition would lower overall disposable income by needlessly raising everyone's costs.

Similarly, using tariffs to force people to pay more for the domestic goods when cheaper foreign imports are available allows domestic producers to survive natural competition, but costs everyone as a whole. Additionally, the money put into an uncompetitive company would be more efficiently placed into an industry where domestic companies have a competitive advantage. (To learn more about the theories that have shaped economics, read The History Of Economic Thought.)

RELATED FAQS
  1. Where are the Social Security administration headquarters?

    The U.S. Social Security Administration, or SSA, is headquartered in Woodlawn, Maryland, a suburb just outside of Baltimore. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the Social Security administration responsible for?

    The main responsibility of the U.S. Social Security Administration, or SSA, is overseeing the country's Social Security program. ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Is the Social Security administration a government corporation?

    The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) is a government agency, not a government corporation. President Franklin Roosevelt ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. When has the United States run its largest trade deficits?

    In macroeconomics, balance of trade is one of the leading economic metrics that determines the trading relationship of a ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What role does the Inspector General play with the Securities and Exchange Commission?

    The inspector general of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) oversees, audits and conducts investigations of ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Which is more important to a nation's economy, the balance of trade or the balance ...

    There is no question the composition of a country's balance of payments is more important than its balance of trade. This ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Economics

    A Look at Greece’s Messy Fiscal Policy

    Investigate the muddy fiscal policy, tax problems, and inability to institute austerity that created the Greek crises in 2010 and 2015.
  2. Economics

    Will North and South Korea Ever Reunite?

    North and South Korea have been divided for over six decades. Some analysts think the two countries could reunify within the next 10 years.
  3. Markets

    The Vodka Industry Keeps Growing, But Why?

    Understand what the vodka industry is and where it performs best. Learn about the growth of the industry and three reason why it continues to grow.
  4. Fundamental Analysis

    Is India the Next Emerging Markets Superstar?

    With a shift towards manufacturing and services, India could be the next emerging market superstar. Here, we provide a detailed breakdown of its GDP.
  5. Economics

    The Top 9 Things to Know About Hillary Clinton's Economic View

    Find out where former secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stands on the economy, jobs, trade and education.
  6. Economics

    Is Argentina a Socialist Country?

    Find out why it does not really make sense to call Argentina a socialist country, even though the South American nation has many socialistic tendencies.
  7. Term

    What is the Macro Environment?

    The macro environment is the conditions existing in an economy as a whole, rather than in a single sector or region.
  8. Economics

    Puerto Rico Will Soon Become America's Greece

    Explore the similarities that exist between Puerto Rico in relation to the United States and Greece in relation to the European Union.
  9. Stock Analysis

    Why Walmart Raised Its Minimum Wage

    Read about the potential pros and cons of Walmart's promise to increase its minimum starting salary to $10 an hour.
  10. Savings

    A Look at the Cost and Tax Treatment of College

    Is there more we can do to improve the affordability of post-secondary education? We take a look at how students and colleges are taxed today.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Cost, Insurance and Freight - CIF

    A trade term requiring the seller to arrange for the carriage ...
  2. International Monetary Fund - IMF

    An international organization created for the purpose of standardizing ...
  3. Inflation

    The rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services ...
  4. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has ...
  5. Emergency Banking Act Of 1933

    A bill passed during the administration of former U.S. President ...
  6. Delivered Duty Unpaid - DDU

    A transaction in international trade where the seller is responsible ...

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!