Student Of Liberty

VII. – A CHINESE TALE.

I can see that, in a little while, we will be short of everything, because we will no longer have any need to make anything.

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Sophisms Second Series

It is with this dubious logic conclusion of the Chinese tale of the cities of Chin and Chan linked by a canal into which the emperor decided to throw huge boulders. This is a new angle to view the sophism that consists seing wealth in the work that is expanded instead of the consumption of goods and services. At the heart of our tale lies the sophisms denounced already in the third pamphlet from the first series.

It is particularly interesting to note that Bastiat found his inspiration for this tale from the philanthropic justifications given to the decisions, the consequences of which are to prevent a smooth economic activity to thrive, chief among them the customs service. In this beginning of the 21st century when the customs are responsible for less evils than then (for now – some developments in 2020 are rather worrying, to say the least), it is possible to replace the word “customs service” by “regulation” and the relevance of the Chinese tale becomes obvious.

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