When you claim the merit for all the good that occurs, you incur responsibility for all the harm that arises.

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Sophisms Third Series

This is exactly how governments in 2020 ended up with the blame of not managing the COVID19 crisis wisely while they were acting, maybe because they were naïve enough to believe themselves responsible for the fight against the disease. In any case, they will deserve the purgatory into which they will be thrown by posterity, be it because of their self-conceit in believing that they can save the planet by decree or because of their cynicism in feeding the panic in order to increase their own power.

What Bastiat was noting 170 years ago was technically different but philosophically identical. The miracle that politicians were offering then was to create happiness to all citizens thanks to taxes (where it is clear that Bastiat was against regressive taxes but not naïve enough as to believe in the “solution” of “taxing the rich”). He reminds us that consumption requires prior production, which will not come from the taxes (or today, from the debt increase and the money printing press). He reminds the people that it is not possible to “draw life from this same treasure, which they are feeding with their very lives”.

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