Page:(Commercial character) The Joseph Fisher lecture in commerce, delivered at the University of Adelaide (IA commercialcharac00jessrich).pdf/17

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tented, in short, substitute for a policy of somewhat obstructive, even if well-intentioned meddlesomeness, one of enlightened statesmanship, patriotism, and honest endeavour for the good of all. I have long held the opinion that next to the social detective, ever on the look out for evils and defects in the universal scheme of life, the most mischevous person is the political quack who tries to remedy them, breeding uncertainty instead of tranquility, and fostering the unrest that develops delusions, not yet, if ever to be realized. You may ask, why introduce politics % My excuse, if excuse be necessary, is to be found in the fact that there are few more important subjects before us than the principles of state interference. The difficulty of defining the proper limits of individual volition in business matters is accentuated by the desire of so many staunch individualists to invoke state interference for their own benefit, while bitterly condemning its exercise for the advantage of others.

The great power of public opinion which is behind the state naturally enough revolts against the arbitrariness and the offensiveness of that phenomenal result of industrial development, the latter-day plutocrat, and welcomes any measure, however chimerical, framed by the adroit and complaisant politician for his discomfiture. The position of the state in relation to the mercantile world has to be established here as elsewhere. While on the subject of employers, let us consider the question of joint stock companies. I remember many years ago a prospectus appeared, I think it was in connection with the well-known Langham Hotel in London, and the name of, I believe, the Earl of Buckinghamshire was in the list of directors. The document caused consider-