Sunday, January 22, 2012

Quote of the Day from Frederic Bastiat

Four days before his death in 1850, Frederic Bastiat sent this message to a friend:

"Treat all economic questions from the viewpoint of the consumer, for the interests of the consumer are the interests of the human race."

MP: How simple and yet deeply profound at the same time, with major implications for public policy and policymakers, who routinely ignore the interests of the unorganized consumers and thereby the human race, but place close attention to the well-organized, well-funded, concentrated interests of producers when they enact legislation like farm subsidies, protectionist tariffs, anti-dumping laws, occupational licensing, forced unionism, restrictions limiting the number of taxicabs, etc.


11 Comments:

At 1/22/2012 9:08 PM, Blogger Adam Gurri said...

I found it profoundly clarifying.

 
At 1/22/2012 9:12 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

*sarcasm* But aren't things like minimum wage, farm subsidies, and tariffs good for the consumer?

 
At 1/22/2012 9:24 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

"occupational licensing"

First, we have to delicense the lawyers. That would encourage radical simplification of contracts etc., and binding arbitration for most disputes.

You hear a lot of braying about state's rights. But in fact, state and local governments are the worst abusers of commercial freedom and the worst enemies of the consumer.

Occupational licensing is almost always a state matter, and land use/zoning and taxation almost always a local matter, and widely abused.

States could legalize prostitution, completely deregulate alcohol, (though not pot), unlicense every profession, make it legal to drive gypsy cabs, or operate push-cart vending services.

Imagine buying a cold beer from a push-cart vendor for $1, and taking in the evening crowd as you stroll around downtown. You can't--the city you are in will crush that nefarious activity.

Most state and local governments are agents of the local business community and public employee unions (fire and police especially). You can forget about free enterprise.

 
At 1/22/2012 11:10 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

...... but place close attention to the well-organized, well-funded, concentrated interests of producers when they enact legislation like farm subsidies,.......

++++++++++++++

Well, you have to protect that top 1% of job creators in order that consumers may exist.


Bastiat was near death when he said this: think he was hedging?

 
At 1/23/2012 2:14 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Consumption is the ultimate goal.

Some people produce more than consume. So, other people can consume more than produce.

 
At 1/23/2012 6:46 AM, Blogger geoih said...

Quote from Benjamin: "You hear a lot of braying about state's rights. But in fact, state and local governments are the worst abusers of commercial freedom and the worst enemies of the consumer."

That's one of your poorer strawman arguments.

 
At 1/23/2012 10:43 AM, Blogger Thomas Molitor said...

The Economist cover story this week says it all, "The Rise of State Capitalism: The emerging world's new model." Rothbard called it "economic fascism."

 
At 1/23/2012 11:50 AM, Blogger Marko said...

I agree with the quote in our context, but it could lead to a destructive populism if taken too far - for example, some could use this quote to argue for price controls! We all know price controls ultimately hurt everyone, consumers included, but it doesn't look that way to its proponents at the start.

 
At 1/23/2012 11:59 AM, Blogger Marko said...

Benjamin, you make a good argument for requiring blog commentators to have a licence, since you don't know what you are talking about.

As I have pointed out to you in the past, you don't need a law licence to do any legal acts on your own behalf. You can draft your own contracts, represent yourself in court, and sue anyone without a lawyer representing you.

State courts require you to have a law license ONLY to represent someone else's legal interests. That is what Attorney means - a legal representative. The licence that is required by state courts is only to prove that you know the law and don't have a criminal record. You have to take and pass the bar exam (although most states require you to also have a J.D. from an accredited university), pass the character and fitness background check, and pay a nominal fee of usually under $1,000. Again, this is only if you want to represent someone else. No need for a licence if you want to sue anyone, or represent yourself, or write your own will, etc.

You can also include binding arbitration in your contracts now, if the person you contract with agrees. No need to get rid of the requirement that an attorney that is going to represent someone else has passed a test to prove they understand the law (and legal ethics, which is part of the test).

You want a simple contract? Write one and if the guy you are contracting with likes it, good luck to you. I would recommend you have a licensed attorney look at it, or you might not like how it turns out, since you are most likely an ignoramus (at least when it comes to the law and how it works).

 
At 1/23/2012 12:54 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


The Economist cover story this week says it all, "The Rise of State Capitalism: The emerging world's new model." Rothbard called it "economic fascism."

It strips the freedoms from everyone that isn't a business or government entity.

 
At 1/23/2012 5:08 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Bastiat was near death when he said this: think he was hedging?

Not at all. Read anything that Bastiat wrote and you will find him very consistent on this point.

 

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