Item 109 - Letter from Sir Louis Mallet to Henry Sidgwick

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Add. MS c/94/109


Letter from Sir Louis Mallet to Henry Sidgwick


  • 16 Sept. 1886 (Creation)

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Refers to Sidgwick's work on Political Economy, and reports that, on his first perusal of it, he had somehow overlooked 'the remarkable passage on p: 527. para: 4', the subject of which has a bearing on his current study. Ventures to ask several question in relation to the ideas contained therein. Refers to Sidgwick's assumption that the State 'would [contract] industrial operations more profitably than private persons'; Mallet presumes that existing interests would be bought out for a sum of £5000 to £6000 million, and that the interest would be in the region of £150 to £180 million. The difference between the sum and the profits 'would be the income of the State.' Asks how Sidgwick prepares to deal with this sum, which would be 'not much less than the [ ] taxation both imperial and local', and which applied in relief of taxes 'could not fail to stimulate population and increase the demand for work - with no additional [supply] to meet it.' Queries Sidgwick's supposition that the profits would be much greater, and asks how he would divide the sum among the members of the community. Suggests that the production cost involved would inevitably lead to 'a gradual absorption of all net profits in gross.' Asserts that there would be a class 'with an income of 150 or 180 millions living without work', which would, by saving and investing its money in the United States and Australia, 'might still escape the doom which [Sidgwick] propose[s] for them [sic]'. This money, Mallet predicts, 'would be gradually supplemented by the savings of the salaried officials, who would also invest them abroad', and there would again be a rich class in being. Asks whether, if an international agreement and the internationalisation of the land and instruments of production all over the world are contemplated, there is any way by which the net product could be decided. Refers also to 'literary men and artists' and 'Bankers and Merchants'. Confesses to being 'hopelessly bewildered', and wonders if he has totally misunderstood Sidgwick's meaning in the matter.

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