Page:Earth-Hunger and Other Essays.djvu/348

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side of the subject. The more anxious and careful the limitations by which the grant of powers is surrounded, the more expensive it must be and the more opportunity is offered for rivals to bar the way of anything new.

In our time, also, great care and attention are given to the ethical questions which arise from the adjustment of interests, and the just balancing of rights. Ethical questions always open grand opportunities for declamation and poetical generalizations, as well as for close analysis and correct deduction. Wagner[1] says that "the social question comes from a consciousness of a contradiction between the economic development and the social ideal of liberty and equality which is being realized in political life." If that is true, then it is no wonder that the social question is so hard to understand, and so enduring. Economic development is sure to come into collision with all "ideals," because economic development is hard and real and ideals are fantastic and unreal. The political ideals of liberty and equality are amongst the most fantastic of all. Such contradictions between ideals and realities surround all our discussions; trades-unionism presents many of them; they threaten the security and the peaceful development of our economic interests. The ethical questions afford a grand arena for the well-disposed bystanders who want to have a share in the discussion although they have no immediate interest in it; they generally contribute many phrases and watchwords of vague sense and wide application, if they have any application at all. Our politics are full of such watchwords and phrases which are of great utility on the stump, and many of them are carried over into economics. There is no reason at all to expect that economic development will ever come into harmony with

  1. Lehrbuch der politischen Ökonomie, 2d edit, p. 36.