You are faced with two paths and you have to choose; and one inevitably leads to poverty.

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Sophisms First Series

It is in the middle of a plea in favour of free-trade that Bastiat gives us this ultimatum that will be developed later by Friedrich von Hayek in his famous book The Road to Serfdom. Both of them are using logical reasoning to demonstrate that, in case freedom is dismissed, the path leads necessarily to servitude and misery.

Another interesting point in this 18th pamphlet is that Bastiat uses the daily provisioning of food to Paris in order to show the power of trade, there being an understanding that it would be impossible to anyone or any group of persons to ensure that all the people in Paris could be fed each day, not too much nor too little, under all weathers – wind, rain or snow. This daily miracle, made possible by economic cooperation that is coordinated by prices is also at the center of Friedrich von Hayek’s thoughts. His lecture at the Nobel Memorial Prize reception in 1974 revolves around this essential concept about prices as an information vehicle, necessary for the coordination of economic activity.

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