Today’s Quotes: Frederic Bastiat

A few of my favs., from the great Bastiat.

Hell yeah. 

All you have to do, is to see whether the law takes from some what belongs to them in order to give it to others to whom it does not belong. We must see whether the law performs, for the profit of one citizen and to the detriment of others, an act which that citizen could not perform himself without being guilty of a crime. Repeal such a law without delay. … [I]f you don’t take care, what begins by being an exception tends to become general, to multiply itself, and to develop into a veritable system.
– Frederic Bastiat
Source: “The Law” by Frederic Bastiat (1850)


“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”
– Frédéric Bastiat, The Law

You can not delegate a right you do not already have.

“If every person has the right to defend — even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.”
– Frederic Bastiat

Oh, indeed.

Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.
– Frederic Bastiat

On gun control.

“Each of us has a natural right, from God, to defend his person, his liberty, and his property.”
― Frédéric Bastiat

  • jonnygalt

    He was a true economic genius. His candle makers petition is one of my favorite economic pieces of all time.

    • speedmaster

      Agreed! I wished I had learned of him before I was 35. Would have been an eye-opener if I had read his stuff in high school.

      • marfdrat

        There’s a ton of stuff like this I wish I had read (or even heard of) in high school, or college, or grad school that would have been a lot more useful than the crap I actually learned – most of which I have no recollection of. Like Steely Dan says: “the things that pass for knowledge I can’t understand”

        • speedmaster