Press: RareBooksClub.com (May 11, 2012)
Author Name:Smith, George Hugh
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1895 Excerpt: ...
by artificial political arrangements.
To bring the State under the full operation of the doctrine, it would be necessary to repudiate, or at least to essentially modify, the existing policy of the State with reference to the following subjects, viz., contracts, and especially contracts for the payment of interest, patent and copyright laws, corporations, taxation and other subjects.
Thus, with regard to usury, or interest, there is an almost universal consensus of opinion in favor of allowing it, and I do not mean to say either that I am, or that I am not, of a different opinion; but certainly the arguments which have been advanced in its support, and which have served to convince the world, are very far from being satisfactory.
The celebrated argumentof Bentham, which is regardel as having settled thequestion, is even childish in its simplicity.
Briefly, it is "that no man of ripe years and of sound mind, acting freely and with his eyes open, ought to be hindered, with a view to his advantage, from making such bargains iu the way of obtaining money as he thinks fit." And he adds: "Were it any individual antagonist I had to deal with, my part would be a smooth and easy one: 'You who fetter contracts, you who lay restraints on the liberty of man, it is lor you, I should say, to assign a reason for your doing so.' That coatracts iu general ought to be observed is a rule no man was ever yet found wrong headed enough to deny," etc.
(Defenseoj Usury, Introduction).
But obviously Bentham here mistakes the issue, and it is he who is arguing in restraint of liberty; for his thesis is, not that men ought to be permitted to agree to pay interests, but that the State ought to compel him to do so; and he iu fact assumes as his first principle that ...
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