I myself used to say that men would ruin themselves if they were left to barter freely!
Economic Sophisms Third Series
This sketch is a charge against mercantilist protectionism thanks to the failed attempt by the mayor of Enios to apply to his town the policy that is conducted for France as a whole. With a lot of humour, Bastiat reports the conversation that the mayor has with the prefect (representing the French government) whereby each of them are using the same arguments to justify an opposite position between national protectionism and communal protectionism. This reminds me of the charges against protectionnism in the United States by Donald Boudreaux nowadays, who sometimes asks New-Yorkers what is the difference to them in engaging in a commercial transaction with someone in New-Mexico or with somebody in Mexico.
Today’s quote focuses on the issue at the heart of these nefarious policies, namely the self-conceit of politicians and their followers who are convinced of knowing better than anybody else what is good for him.