We therefore come to the conclusion that all economic sophisms, in spite of their infinite variety, have this in common: they confuse the means with the end and develop one at the expense of the other.

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Sophisms First Series

This is the conclusion of an important pamphlet in which Bastiat exposes the widespread arguments according to which a country should import goods with a low added-value and protect its market from goods with high added-value.

Right before the conclusion, he shows how, once more, those who advocate tariffs and other trade restrictions have generally, whatever the justifications they are using, an incentive for those restrictions to be in place and do not really care about the damages they could cause to society as a whole.

Moreover, this 21st pamphlet has a particular historical interest concerning the evolution of economic theory on value. Following in the steps of Adam Smith and preceding Karl Marx, the confusion between labour and value is still very strong and, even if there are other essays from Frédéric Bastiat where the understanding from Carl Menger is not far, the present text seems to view labour and value synonymously, which is an error.

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