Front Page Titles (by Subject) 31.: Letter to A. M. Laurence - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
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31.: Letter to A. M. Laurence - Frédéric Bastiat, The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics 
The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics, translated from the French by Jane and Michel Willems, with an introduction by Jacques de Guenin and Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean. Annotations and Glossaries by Jacques de Guenin, Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean, and David M. Hart. Translation editor Dennis O’Keeffe (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2011).
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Letter to A. M. Laurence
Mugron, 9 November 1844
[vol. 7, p. 369]
Dear Sir and Colleague,
Thank you for your kind words in the letter you were good enough to write to me on the subject of my little work on the distribution of taxes.54 I sincerely regret that it has not been more effective in changing your beliefs, since I acknowledge that in the arguments caused on occasion by neighborhood rivalry your noble spirit places you above the petty bias which others find it impossible to put aside. For my part, I can state that, if any error or exaggeration has infiltrated my text, it has been quite involuntary. I am far from envying for my area’s sake the prosperity of yours, quite the contrary, and it is my firm conviction that neither of the two can prosper without the other benefiting. I even think that this solidarity embraces all nations. For this reason, I bitterly deplore the national jealousies that are the favorite theme of journalism. If I had, as you think, based my reasoning on the false premise that the entire area of the sea pine plantations in the Landes55was equally productive, I would retract on the spot. However, there is nothing in my writing that justifies this allegation. Nor have I mentioned hail, frost, or fires. These are circumstances which ought to have been taken into account when the current tax was applied to various crops. It is this tax, such as it is, which is my point of departure. Nor do I think that I attributed the distress of the wine-producing region to the improper distribution of the tax. But I said that the distribution of the tax should be adjusted as a result of this distress, since it is a principle that tax is raised on income. If the income of a county is reduced permanently, its contribution should also be reduced and consequently that of the other counties should increase. This is also an additional proof of the solidarity between all the parts of the territory, and the Greater Landes harmed itself when, through our colleague, M. Castagnède, it opposed the agricultural community’s becoming the mouthpiece for our grievances to the authorities.
You say that in Villeneuve56 agriculture has made progress without the population increasing in number. This doubtless means that each individual and each family has become more prosperous. If this prosperity has not encouraged marriages and births and extended the average life expectancy, Villeneuve is, for a reason I cannot guess, beyond all the laws of nature which govern population phenomena.
Lastly, dear sir and colleague, you refer me to the evidence military recruitment affords. You say that it shows that the finest stock and the strongest men come from the areas that are most cultivated and which grow vines. However, please note that I do not go so far as to compare the population of the Landes to that of the Chalosse but only each of these populations to itself at different periods of time. For me, the question is not to determine whether the population of the Landes is as vigorous and dense as that in the Chalosse but whether, in the last forty years, one has made progress and the other regressed in these two respects. It was easy for me to check the numbers. With regard to the quality of the human stock, I would be willing to consult the recruitment tables, if they have them at the prefecture.
You can see that, like all the authors in the world, I do not readily admit to being mistaken. However, I must say that I have not sufficiently explained the scope of the passage in which I summarized in figures the various considerations scattered through my work. I am fully aware that population movement cannot be a good basis for distribution; my sole aim has been to make my conclusions understandable by using figures, and I sincerely hope that direct research by the authorities will produce results not far from those I have reached, because, in my view, there is a relationship that is, if not very tight, then at least of a notably approximate kind, between the progress of the population and that of income.
[55 ]Before the nineteenth century, the part of the Landes département located north of the Adour River was covered with swamps. A huge forest of sea pines was successfully planted during the nineteenth century, and in time the swamps dried up.
[56 ]Villeneuve de Marsan, a city in the east of the Landes.