Thursday, 18 January 2007

Sad news about a great man

Frédéric Bastiat exploded more protectionists myths more succinctly than perhaps any other writer; described as "the most brilliant economic journalist who ever lived," he was perhaps the nineteenth-century's greatest proselytiser on free trade.

The idea that protectionism works is satirised in his now famous Petition from Candle-makers for legal protection "from the ruinous competition of a foreign rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low price" -- in other words, a petition from candle-makers against the sun.

The idea that destruction is good for the economy is exploded in his story of the Broken Window -- to story around which Henry Hazlitt based a whole book: Economics in One Lesson. And the ridiculous twaddle that advocates of free trade are just theorists, who don't take actual practice sufficiently into consideration is dismissed unceremoniously in Theory and Practice. And that's just a small taste of what lies in Bastiat's arsenal.

All this is to say that if you don't have a well-thumbed copy of this great Frenchman's Economic Sophisms in your library, then you're missing out.

And to point out a very unfortunate fact that a friend of mine just pointed out to me, one almost the opposite of Dave Henderson's great victory over the grey ones: the house in which Bastiat had lived for long in Mugron is now lodging the “perception des impost,” the French IRD office…

Poor Bastiat.

LINKS: What is seen and not seen - Bastiat, Economic Sophisms (free online edition at EconLibrary)
The petition of the candlemakers - Bastiat, Economic Sophisms
The balance of trade - Bastiat, Economic Sophisms
Theory and practice - Bastiat, Economic Sophisms
Economic Sophisms - Amazon.Com
The man who took on the IRD and won - NZ Herald (May, 2006)

RELATED: Economics, History


  1. in other words, a petition from candle-makers against the sun.

    Lol, that is quite funny.

  2. What is the sad news?

  3. If there is an afterlife he can always haunt the bastards! ;-)

  4. James said...
    [If there is an afterlife...]

    Ummm, may be in another quantum universe.


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