Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. Frédéric Bastiat
As most Atlas readers know, the wellspring of all of my ideas and activism is individual rights. That is my battle, and I fight the enemies of individualism. So it was particularly enjoyable to do a whole show discussing this very thing. Andrew Wilcow did a whole show on
"Bastiat's Warning Against Big Government." Joining me on the panel were
Leo Rota from The Bastiat Society, Harry Binswanger from the Ayn Rand Institute, and Katherine Mangu-Ward from Reason Magazine.
Everyone should be made to read Bastiat. But generally it is the self-taught who have come to know and admire him. Universities embrace the haters of logic and reason (i.e. Kant), and Bastiat is hardly taught in a public school system that champions statism and collectivism. Bastiat asserted that the sole purpose of government is to protect
the right of an individual to life, liberty, and property. And this it is
dangerous and morally wrong for government to interfere with an
individual's other personal matters (clearly NYC Mayor Bloomberg isn't reading him).
He concluded that
the law cannot defend life, liberty, and property if it promotes "legal [or legalized] plunder,"
which he defined as using government force and laws to take something
from one individual and give it to others. And like Ayn Rand, Bastiat states that "We cannot doubt that self-interest is the
mainspring of human nature. It must be clearly understood that this word
is used here to designate a universal, incontestable fact, resulting
from the nature of man, and not an adverse judgment, as would be the
One of Bastiat's most important contributions to the field of
economics was his admonition to the effect that good economic decisions
can be made only by taking into account the "full picture." That is,
economic truths should be arrived at by observing not only the immediate
consequences – that is, benefits or liabilities – of an economic
decision, but also by examining the long-term second and third
It was a marvelous hour — yes, an hour on philosophy, reason and
morality. Utterly fantastic. If I can find the whole hour, I will post.
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