Student Of Liberty

7. – TWO LOSSES VERSUS ONE PROFIT.

For, Sir, I believe that I have observed, and you will perhaps have observed as I have, that in spite of the great scorn that individuals and nations display for gain, they have difficulty in giving it up.

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Sophisms Third Series

This quote taken separately denounces the hypocrisy of those who look down on money but whose actions do not reflect this position.

In the context of the article, Bastiat uses it to lament about the blindness of his fellow countrymen who should understand that tariffs, far from bringing to the country the wealth announced by their supporters, cost twice as much as it seems.

In his demonstration, Bastiat refers to a cutler and a glove maker to show how tariffs allow one to prosper to the detriment of the other and then introduces a bookstore, which is usually ignored completely because the effects of tariffs on this cannot be seen directly. What is interesting is that it leads to think in terms of “trickle down” economics, as John Maynard Keynes could later develop in terms of multiplier. Let’s not get it wrong though: Keynes did not believe in manna from heaven by robbing Peter to pay Paul but in forcing the use of unused ressources – contemporary understanding which consists in believing that when the State spends money instead of letting individuals do, wealth is multiplied, would not have seduced Keynes anymore than it would have seduced Bastiat.

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