The Law was originally published in French in 1850 by Frederic Bastiat. It was written two years after the third French Revolution of 1848. From Wikipedia: Claude Frederic Bastiat (29 June 1801- 24 December 1850) was a French classical liberal theorist, political economist, and member of the French assembly. He was notable for developing the ...
The Law was originally published in French in 1850 by Frederic Bastiat. It was written two years after the third French Revolution of 1848. From Wikipedia: Claude Frederic Bastiat (29 June 1801- 24 December 1850) was a French classical liberal theorist, political economist, and member of the French assembly. He was notable for developing the important economic concept ofopportunity cost. Bastiat was born in Bayonne, Aquitaine, France. When he was nine years old, he was orphaned and became awardof his paternal grandparents. At 17, he left school to work in his family's export business. EconomistThomas DiLorenzosuggests that this experience was crucial to Bastiat's later work since it allowed young Frederic to acquire first-hand knowledge of how regulation can affect markets. Sheldon Richmannotes that "he came of age during theNapoleonic wars, with their extensive government intervention in economic affairs." When Bastiat was 25, his grandfather died, leaving the young man the family estate, thereby providing him with the means to further his theoretical inquiries. Bastiat developed intellectual interests in several areas including philosophy, history, politics, religion, travel, poetry, political economyandbiography.After themiddle-classRevolution of 1830, Bastiat became politically active and was electedjustice of the peacein 1831 and to theCouncil General(county-level assembly) in 1832. He was elected to the national legislative assembly after theFrench Revolution of 1848. His public career as an economist began only in 1844. It was cut short by his untimely death in 1850. Bastiat had contractedtuberculosis, probably during his tours throughout France to promote his ideas, and that illness eventually prevented him from making further speeches (particularly at the legislative assembly to which he was elected in 1848 and 1849) and took his life. Bastiat died in Rome on 24 December 1850. Bastiat was the author of many works on economics and political economy, generally characterized by their clear organization, forceful argumentation, and acerbic wit. EconomistMurray Rothbardwrote that "Bastiat was indeed a lucid and superb writer, whose brilliant and witty essays and fables to this day are remarkable and devastating demolitions ofprotectionismand of all forms of governmentsubsidyand control. He was a truly scintillating advocate of an untrammeledfree market."On the other hand, Bastiat himself declared that subsidy should be available, but limited: "under extraordinary circumstances, for urgent cases, the State should set aside some resources to assist certain unfortunate people, to help them adjust to changing conditions."Among his better known works isEconomic Sophisms, which contains many strongly worded attacks onstatistpolicies. Bastiat wrote it while living inEnglandto advise the shapers of the French Republic on pitfalls to avoid. Contained withinEconomic Sophismsis the famoussatiricalparable known as the "Candlemakers' petition"which presents itself as a demand from the candlemakers' guild to the French government, asking the government to block out the Sun to prevent its unfair competition with their products. He also facetiously "advocated" forbidding the usage of everyone's right hand, based on the assumptions that more difficulty means more work and more work means more wealth. Much likeJonathan Swift'sA Modest ProposalorBenjamin Franklin's anti-slaveryworks, Bastiat's argument cleverly highlights basic flaws inprotectionismby demonstrating its absurdity through logical extremes. Bastiat's most famous work, however, is undoubtedlyTHE LAW, originally published as a pamphlet in 1850. It defines, through development, a just system of laws and then demonstrates how such law facilitates a free society. He also famously engaged in a debate, between 1849 and 1850, withPierre-Joseph Proudhonabout the leg"
This book was written in a time when people were thinking, not opining. If one is truly interested in freedom and how laws are written and the rationale behind those written laws should read this book.
Jun 22, 2009
Short but to the point; easy but powerful
This very short book is a very powerful treatise in favor of natural law, the free market, capitalism, the private sector, and limited government. Refutes the ideas of socialism very quickly and easily. Its very easy to understand and does not take long to read at all. Every US legislator should have to read this book. Next to the constitution and declaration of independence, it is the most important book in america
Jul 5, 2007
I grew up in a socialist country thinking that government intervention was a good thing. Moreover, I thought that 'rights' entailed entitlements I had on everyone else, especially the wealthy. Bastiat's work on 'The Law' challenges that whole conception from head to toe. Moreover, it is the kind of paradigm shifting gem you rarely come across in political, legal, or economic literature. In less than a hundred pages, Bastiat lucidly argues the case that laws should only be minimally used to defend, and not to remove, personal liberty. It single-handedly changed my mind on a number of issues. Highly reccomended, especially since it can be had so cheaply.
Jun 22, 2007
Economic version of LEX REX
Excellent book! A necessary read for all engaged in economics and politics (hence, everybody)!!! This book should be a required reading for all university students in all disciplines.
Bastiat is both brilliant and rhetorically sublime with his depth and ease of comprehension.
May 24, 2007
LIBERTY's TRUE MEANING
This skinniest of wee tomes, is packed with amazing philosophical truths. In it, one of the great philosophers so clearly presents a discourse on Liberty, it can be understood by even us ordinary citizens.
Many readers will have epiphanies upon learning Bastiat?s definition of the SOCIALISM, so cleverly incorporated in U.S. government since the 1860?s. He terms Socialism ?LEGAL PLUNDER, ? contending that the LAW [ which is in our case, our government] has as its purpose protection of citizens from plunder, but ?the Law, not only fails to do so, it participates in it,? placing ?the whole apparatus of judges, police, prisons ?? at the service of the plunderers. The government then treats the victim--when he defends himself?as a criminal.?
Bastiat defines Legal Plunder: ?See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to others to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.?
Every person who pays taxes, loves his U.S. heritage, or cares about his children?s future, should read The Law as an accompaniment of the United States Constitution.
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