Student Of Liberty

XI. – THE UTOPIAN.

Oh yes! You are reducing revenue without reducing expenditure and you will avoid a deficit?

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Sophisms Second Series

One could blame Bastiat for a lack of rigour. Here are figures without any demonstration that they are exact or relevant. However, he may be excused for his text is titled “The Utopian” and because econometrics and the flood of figures coming out of dubious models to justify one or the other economic policy was not yet in fashion back in 1847.

 What I note is that he is suggesting to amend and simplify the way taxes are levied in order to take justice into account, to the extent that he recommends to create fiscal tariffs (aimed at collecting revenues for the government, unlike protectionist ones) on imports and exports, at the same level for all goods, whatever they are (this was before the invention of VAT, which renders such a tariff obsolete). Having a consistent fiscal doctrine would be highly beneficial to France nowadays; unfortunately this is not the case because of the depth of the pit in which the government finance find themselves to be.

One of his suggestions would be highly controversial today, which is to substitute conscription for the professional army but it is interesting to note that, in his reflexion, he is privileging a defence objective rather than a spending objective and realises that it creates issue concerning individual freedom. 

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