A man of greater strength, more laborious, more attentive about the future, would occupy more than a man of a contrary character. He, whose family is the most numerous having greater wants and more hands, extends his possessions further; this is a first cause of inequality.—Every piece of ground is not equally fertile; two men with the same extent of land, may reap a very different harvest; this is a second source of inequality. Property in descending from fathers to their children, divides into greater or less portions, according as the descendants are more or less numerous, and as one generation succeeds another, sometimes the inheritances again subdivide, and sometimes re-unite again by the extinction of some of the branches; this is a third source of inequality. The difference of knowledge, of activity, and, above all, the oeconomy of some, contrasted with the indolence, inaction, and dissipation of others, is a fourth principle of inequality, and the most powerful of all: the negligent and inattentive proprietor, who cultivates badly, who in a fruitful year consumes in frivolous things the whole of his superfluity, finds himself reduced on the least accident to request assistance from his more provident neighbour, and to live by borrowing.
M. de Gournay found it equally strange that, in a kingdom in which the order of succession was determined simply by custom, and in which the question of applying the death sentence to certain crimes was still left to the discretion of the courts, the government should have deigned to regulate by special legislation the length and breadth of each piece of cloth, the number of threads it was to contain, and to hallow with the seal of the legislature four volumes in quarto filled with these important details, and in addition innumerable statutes, dictated by the spirit of monopoly, the whole purpose of which were to discourage industry, to concentrate trade within the hands of a few people by multiplying formalities and charges, by subjecting industry to apprenticeships and journeymanships (compagnonnages) often years in some trades which can be learned in ten days, by excluding those who were not sons of masters, or those born outside a certain class, and by prohibiting the employment of women in the manufacture of cloth, etc., etc.
Pierre de Boisguilbert (1646-1714) Hazel Van Dyke Roberts, Boisguilbert: economist of the reign of Louis XIV, New York, Columbia University Press, 1935 “Boisguilbert: An Early French Economist“, 1873, Westminster Review Vauban (1633-1707) A Project for a Royal Tythe, or General Tax, which by suppressing all the ancient funds and later projects for raising the public revenues, and for ever abolishing all exemptions, unequal assessments, and all rigours and oppressive distraining of people, will furnish the government a fixt and certain revenue, sufficient for all its exigencies and occasions, without oppressing the subjects, London, 1708 (see also the 1710 edition) Richard […]