Student Of Liberty

15. – ONE MAN’S GAIN IS ANOTHER MAN’S LOSS.

Alas, there is no club capable of crushing a sophism.

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Sophisms Third Series

This text is extraordinarily short because of the difficulty there can be in trying to convince that an error that is in everybody’s mind is an error indeed. According to the editor’s note, Bastiat wanted to debunk this error according to which one man’s gain is another man’s loss but, seeing how difficult this was, he wrote the Economic Harmonies!

As a reminder, when a commercial transaction occurs, the seller chooses to depart from an object (or a service) in order to obtain something he values more. The buyer chooses to acquire something he values more than what he gives for it. Both parties gain in the trade, there is value creation. Even if that created value may be shared in unequal proportions, the gain of one man IS NOT the loss of the other.

Of course, one or the other may have misjudged one part of the transaction and sometimes, fraud and deception occur although they are banned. However, the number of honest transactions is well over the number of dishonest transactions, in a proportion that is large enough to render the title of this text a sophism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *