⚦ [PDF] ✎ Essays on Political Economy By Frédéric Bastiat ✶ – Saudionline.co.uk



10 thoughts on “Essays on Political Economy

  1. says:

    Frederic Bastiat is an economic genius His work is timeless because he excoriates a government that steals from one group to give to another under the rubric of welfare, or helping the downtrodden By definition it is stealing from one group to enrich another The government, be it 19th century France, or 21st century America strange how he praises mid 1800 s America except for slavery because of their economic freedoms, which we ve since given up will laud the impulse they have exerted on the economy only reporting those jobs they have created, not acknowledging the utility that would have been gained elsewhere in the economy had they not taken it from the taxpayer Not to mention the value that is syphoned off by the work necessary to levy and collect the taxes which is paid for but does not increase overall productivity in the country Therefore although there is benefit seen from the money redirected by government, there is nothing said of the benefit foregone because of the money taken from the taxpayer, nor nothing spoken of the inefficiencies in that transfer and the money and time wasted in collecting and redistributing the money, which all hurts overall productivity in the country and importantly erodes our freedoms.Please understand that this does not mean there are not roles for the government, but the redistribution of monies under the false guise of spurring the economy is a lie, and should be regarded as such While I m sure it s well intentioned, the fact remains that it is done to curry political favor and done like in the case of the 19th century socialists, because politicians don t trust the public and will not leave them to their own devices They believe they know better than the public, and that without their intervention, we would ruin ourselves.It s good to know that many members of both parties but especially the party in power in the highest office in the land, has done little to update his understanding of the economy since the mid 1800 s.


  2. says:

    Bastiat, in his usual entertaining, simple style outlines what seem to be complicated questions of economics and not only makes them accessible, but makes clear the costs and benefits of each proposed path and its opposite Some may question whether there is any benefit to reading a Frenchman writing in the first half of the 19th century yet the questions he faced are the same that plague us today, and we would do well to consider how the solutions we have been bringing to bear for decades are actually the root of many of our problems Bastiat begins by defending interest on capital, using everyday examples to lay plain the justice of interest and the benefit of it He then moves on to the famous broken window example, by which he explodes the Keynesian theory then not even yet formed that war and other destruction somehow increases our wealth His method for analyzing this is viewing what is seen and that which is not seen, or in other words, the many real and not just apparent consequences of actions He concludes that the best way to benefit all, especially the workers, is not insurrection, hatred and error but peace, liberty, and security location 500 501 Henry Hazlitt further focuses on this type of analysis in his brilliant and accessible Economics in One Lesson The Shortest Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics Bastiat lays down the marker for economists to come, with his observation, the bad economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil location 507 508 Keynesianism vs Liberalism, anyone Bastiat develops this reasoning to show the fallacy that government spending of any kind militaries, infrastructure, etc creates jobs rather, it merely displaces them from where and how they would have been otherwise employed had the money spent on them not been taken away by taxes in the first place, and in a way natural and organic to people s actual situations, wants, and needs He notes that such expenditures must be defended on their actual merits the need for defense, roads, dams, etc and their benefits as such, not in job creation which is actually just job dislocation and Bastiat is sure to note the process loss in government taking with one hand and giving, but not as much, with the other He also attacks the false notion that for a person to oppose government spending on a subject i.e., the arts is to oppose the subject itself, whereas if there is a need or want for a thing, it would receive much natural support from a people left free to invest in it on their own directly.He shows the illusion of eliminating middlemen by showing how they are typically replaced with some sort of government functionary, therefore the consumer is left paying the one, or the taxpayer paying the other, and the latter functioning far less efficiently and competently, without such intermediaries actually being removed.Bastiat distinguishes between labor, money, and wealth, showing that labor is for the purpose of some good thing not an end to itself , and money is for convenience of exchange but one can t eat it , but true wealth are the good things labor produces and money buys Therefore, any restriction on imports, on mechanization, on labor, etc tend to make everyone poorer by reducing the abundance of the good things all seek, even if they might produce work or put money in a person s pocket, which in the end, buys fewer desirable goods and services He explodes the idea still prevalent today of importing being bad and exporting being good most people, in their own exchanges, seek to receive while parting with less , again by focusing on the purpose of exchange, that is, the goods and services sought In the meantime, he shows up the enormous expense consumed in creating and enforcing such restrictions that in the end make everyone less well provided for His discourse on money is very entertaining as well as enlightening and well worth reading Bastiat attacks the idea that true wealth can be created by borrowing, either private or public, showing that whether there is a lot or little money chasing the desired goods and services, it is not the money that creates them Therefore, the actual capital and productive labor that drives availability, not cash He attacks the mercantilist system and the idea of colonialism generally while colonialism may seem like a bad word nowadays, the underpinning economic fallacies Bastiat exposes remain in current use today, unfortunately.He explores people s misconceptions about the role, not to mention the capabilities, of government, not to mention their common desire to have it all and not have to pay for it He explores the unrealistic ideas of what government ought to provide from the common calls a beneficent and inexhaustible being, calling itself the Government, which has bread for al mouths, work for all hands, capital for all enterprises, credit for all projects, oil for all wounds, balm for all sufferings, advice for all perplexities, solutions for all doubts, truths for all intellects, diversions for all who want them, milk for infancy, and wine for old age which can provide for all our wants, satisfy all our curiosity, correct all our errors, repair all our faults, and exempt us henceforth from the necessity for foresight, prudence, judgment, sagacity, experience, order, economy, temperance and activity location 1203 1208 He can t help but to observe, since up to this time everything presenting itself under the name of the Government is immediately overturned by the people, precisely because it does not fulfill the rather contradictory conditions of the programme location 1212 1213 He sums it up so Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavours to live at the expense of everybody else location 1234 1235 While it is popular to disparage those in favor of free markets as being uncaring and their system leading to the victimization of the poor, Bastiat quite shows the opposite is true For instance, at the end of his money discourse, he explains both the theoretical and practical cause and effect of inflation, especially in how the rich tend to benefit or at least not be hurt as much while the poor end up on the short end of the stick When once false money under whatever form it may take is put into circulation, depreciation will ensue, and manifest itself by the universal rise of every thing which is capable of being sold But this rise in prices is not instantaneous and equal for all things Sharp men, brokers, and men of business, will not suffer by it for it is their trade to watch the fluctuations of prices, to observe the cause, and even to speculate upon it But little tradesmen, countrymen, and workmen, will bear the whole weight of it The rich man is not any the richer for it, but the poor man becomes poorer by it Therefore, expedients of this kind have the effect of increasing the distance which separates wealth from poverty location 1662 1666 In short, this work should be requires reading for anyone before receiving a high school diploma, not only for how it simplifies the many and complicated issues facing us all everyday, but for the way it can even sharpen a person s ability to think critically and examine carefully consequences, intended and unintended, immediate and long term Better yet, concerned parents ought to read it for themselves and ensure their children read it, as Bastiat himself notes about education, The most urgent necessity is, not that the State should teach, but that it should allow education All monopolies are detestable, but the worst of all is the monopoly of education location 1707 1709 After all, how is it we have gotten ourselves into the dreadful situation of the state curbing our liberties each day, and seizing of our property through taxes, all in the name of fixing the very problems it created, other than by educating us through its schools to assume that which is not true, is true, and that which is true, is somehow harmful to us


  3. says:

    it all comes to the same thing political economy, justice, good sense, are all the same thing while this book is not flawless, its central message is of the utmost importance for Humanity and Civilization Liberty brings the development and prosperity of Mankind and Economics is the science that shows how this is true All those econometrics of nowadays are just mist that is shrouding common sense and the efforts of fellow human beings to aspire to a better life.This book was released in 1874, the Marginalist Revolution hadn t even happened, and this man produced a collection of essays that shows that all one has to do in order to understand economics is to accept human nature, human interests and start theorising from the simplest situations, adding a little complexity and understanding how it all comes down to the same thing savings, prudence and cooperation.


  4. says:

    This collection of essays contains five of the essays of this well known and sadly all too shortly lived French economist who explores the various ways that someone who is essentially proper and conservative can appeal to a large group of readers in speaking economic truths that are sometimes difficult to understand for many people Two of the essays in this book I have already read and commented on at length elsewhere in my writings about this economist 1 , namely The Law, which is the fifth essay here, and That Which Is Seen, And That Which Is Unseen, which is the second essay The remaining three essays, though, are short but powerful examples of Bastiat s winning graciousness and perspicacity as a writer Namely, those essays are Capital And Interest, where the author provides a legitimization of interest and the productive capacity of capital, Government, where the author talks about the tensions governments are involved in with the simultaneous and contrary desires for low taxes and high amounts of government service, and What Is Money which is a short dialogue concerning monetary policy and the difficulties of defining terms in economics.This is the sort of book that would be deeply loved by those who are already fond of Bastiat as a writer Some readers, when they encounter this book, may have read some of the essays here before, but even so this is a powerful collection of writings that demonstrates Bastiat s interest in explaining economics to a mass audience and in educating ordinary French citizens and those who read him in translation on the fundamental aspects of political economics He is gracious and tireless in pointing out that to be hostile to government doing something because it tends to do things poorly and because the true costs of public goods are not often revealed by those who endorse them is not to be hostile to the things that government likes to do His essay on money, for example, ends up in an eloquent plea for freedom of education, which is not going to happen well if government is in charge, something that we can see all too well in the United States, for example Likewise, his essays in general are full of references to areas of widespread interest and he manages to avoid being tediously repetitive about the points that he has to make, leavening his comments with humor and a fair dose of irony.Although I happen to be a fan of Bastiat s winsome approach, especially when it is compared to many others of the same political and economic mindset but a great deal less charm, I wonder often if Basitat s arguments are likely to be as successful as one would hope To be sure, Bastiat combines logic with a great deal of humanity, and no one giving these essays a fair read would assume that Bastiat was lacking in the warmth of human kindness, as can be said about many of the economics of the Austrian school Is it the truths that authors like Bastiat proclaim that is unpopular themselves, or is the approach fundamental than the content in determining the hearing that contemporary writers would receive in writing this sort of material It is hard to determine this fact for sure, and the result is that we are left with a small body of excellent writing by Bastiat but no way of knowing if his approach would have been successful than the generally unsuccessful approach of writers who had the same opinions and beliefs as he did about political economy but were less interested in persuading and interested in ridiculing and skinning them with the painful truth painfully said 1 See, for example


  5. says:

    Ugh I enjoy reading Bastiat because his prose is well worded, but the content is the exact same drivel I hear from intelligent libertarians today.He tosses out a lot of explanations that were great then but which have since been amended and debunked It s got holes in it, just like those modern libertarian arguments And that is honestly exhausting To me, it has always seemed that libertarian economics should be called Econ for people who only ever took intro economics F Taking from one man to give to another isn t producing any economic activity yes it is if you re taking from the wealthy whose marginal propensity to spend is lower than the impoverished to give to the poor who will spend every penny and create demand in the economy.F You can t just print money out of thin air it doesn t add wealth to the economy yes you can and yes it can If you can print that money essentially for free as we ve been able to for almost a decade now and pumping it into the lower rungs of society will boost spending, this will boost hiring across the economy to provide goods and services being demanded Inflation yadayada yeah we ve all got answers for these things that s what floating currencies and the inflation rate is for.Like I get that Bastiat is wrong a lot of the time His writing is hundreds of years old But when people start running with these ideas and ignore the empirical evidence we ve used to update economic theory, that s when you look foolish.Read him for context Learn about all of his arguments, then learn about which have been answered.


  6. says:

    Essays on Political Economy is the first work I have ever read by Bastiat beyond quotes and excerpts I come away very impressed with his lines of reasoning and his simple examples to depict complicated economic interactions and concepts Bastiat is a precursor to the Austrian school of economics he believes that government intervention in the economy does harm than good and that paper money is extremely dangerous He believes that government should exist only to protect private property, which Bastiat writes is the epitome of justice Any intervention by the government in private transactions and private property establishes a precedent that eventually leads to ruin.As an Austrian school supporter, I found myself nodding along throughout Bastiat s work What stood out most to me was his revelation that government can go down one of three paths the few plunder the many, everybody plunders everybody, or nobody plunders anybody There is no middle ground in between the distinctions Once the government decides to infringe on private property rights, which it does with its redistributive taxes today, it establishes a dangerous precedent If the few are in power, these usurpations benefit the ruling class at the expense of the masses In a universal suffrage democracy with a plundering government, different factions take from each other and everybody plunders everybody In the third option, nobody plunders anybody and the free market is allowed to work its magic through voluntary association and mutually beneficial transactions.It is also extremely important to take seriously his writings on what is seen and what is not seen This is as relevant as ever in an age of economic illiteracy like today When we simply look at the immediate effects of an action, we see that protectionist policies benefit one class of workers and business owners in whatever industry is being protected These people will have money to spend and circulate throughout the economy However, the amount and quality of the useful goods within a country are the true indicator of its worth Also, each time someone buys a good or pays for a service, he or she has simply traded the previous good or service sold for money for this new good or service Nothing is gained in that string of transactions When people are forced to pay extra money for a domestic good rather than purchase the good abroad cheaper, they are worse off If they were allowed to buy the good abroad, they would have booth the good the true judge of wealth and the extra money in savings to spend and circulate on another good or service.I look forward to reading Bastiat, but I thought that this was a fantastic primer It is available for free on Kindle, so there s no reason to avoid this one Bastiat should be mentioned among the brilliant minds of the 19th century he is a champion of liberty and small government, which probably explains why most have not heard of him It certainly does not feel as if this was written nearly 200 years ago, which goes to show that many of the problems we face today have historical precedents from which we can learn.


  7. says:

    Where the purpose of the book The Law by Mr.Bastiat ends, the necessity of his Essays on Political Economy begins.Originally published as a pamphlet, The Law was written to appeal the public at large It flows with brilliant eloquence, with sentences constructed in active voice, instructing, revealing and lambasting the over reach of the government in formation of law to use it as a tool of plunder, instead of employing the same to protect the liberty and property of man He had further explained how the tariffs, subsidies, free public education, taxation etc, provided in the name of poor, is actually being utilized to plunder one group for promoting the interests of the other However, The Law does not provide any theoretical explanations for Bastiat s pronouncements.Herein begins the purpose of economical substantiations provided through his essays Essays on Political Economy of Bastiat and his other ones , provides the science of economy which is necessary for the harmony of the free society The essays That which is seen and That which is not seen explicates the detrimental effects of the social policies formulated without considering the effects of That which is not seen , which is nothing but the Opportunity cost widely applied today by every economist, accountant, business consultant in calculating the return on investment, public or private What makes Bastiat a genius is not only that he propounds the concept of Opportunity cost in the most accessible manner for which we are forever indebted to him but that he also applies the same to every possible governmental policy formulated in the name of the general goodness be it taxation, public services, credit backed by state, war, and explains the undue consequences of the same which are apt and accurate to this every day Personally, I am impressed by the essays under Capital and Interest where he logically argues on the link between capital and social progress I wonder how marxism, communism and socialism spread its shadow over this world even after economists like Bastiat proved brilliantly the undeniable role of capital or money for the very progress and harmony of the society It should be noted that Bastiat never denies the role of government, as noted by another reviewer in this space He makes it clear that as long the government spending or policies meets its utility, its role is perfectly justified But when there is a pilferage, plunder, extravagance or over reach when promises exceeds results, he warns of the consequences of higher opportunity cost lost.As long as the world has the State and citizens the rulers and the ruled the government and the governed, Bastiat and his thoughts would stay alive, in rigour A must read.


  8. says:

    This is a good and easy to read collection of Bastiat s polemical, witty and sharp essays.It includes the ever green The Law , which is a fantastic piece of polemical writing in the right libertarian tradition I have reviewed it elsewhere it remains fantastic That Which is Seen is a rhetorical masterpiece It contains the famous broken window fallacy but it treats a whole plethora of subjects under the sun that which is seen , and in the shadows that which is not seen The rhetorical exposition of a few basic tenets, and applying it real world problems, proves a fertile and fruitful task, since it enables a wide ranging criticism of government shortsightedness and of petty minded group interest, self interest, politics Capital and Interest is a somewhat drier but pedantically useful exposition of the value of capital accumulation and interest collection It dispels many myths of the evils of money by explaining the economic rational of capital economy It argues passionately that it is in the interest of not only the landowning and property owning classes, but also the labouring classes, to support the spreading of capital accumulation to the whole population.There is a case to be made that Bastiat s political economy is markedly 19th Century in its failure to accommodate rising working class interests at heart There is a further case to be made that some of the economic arguments need to be supplemented, in order to be valid, by late 19th and 20th century advances in economic theory, e.g marginalism and behavioural economics.But the surprising thing about these texsts is not that they need revision in light of new data the surprising thing is how LITTLE of Bastiat s basic analysis needs such revision He provides a lively critique of the plundering policies of an ever expanding welfare state Such an analysis, although one sided, is relevant even today perhaps than ever.


  9. says:

    Everyone should require themselves to read this book Though written in the middle of the 19th century in France, it addresses the important policy questions facing the citizens of the United States and indeed other nations as well in a manner so timely one is reminded of the line in Ecclesiastes, w hat has been will be again, what has been done will be done again there is nothing new under the sun It s translation is in the public domain and available for free at gutenberg.org Stylistically certain portions seem a bit archaic one essay in particular is composed as a dialogue between the author and another thinker in a manner uncommon these days , but it is utterly comprehensible to a 21st century reader without reference notes i.e there is no obsolete diction The only unfortunate aspect of this book is the realization that the French did not take heed in the 19th century just as it seems unlikely that we will take heed in the present.


  10. says:

    This text presents a very convincing argument for classical liberalism, provided that you aren t bothered by its total lack of cited evidence However, what is seen and what is not seen is a very useful heuristic for auto optimization.


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