They appear to believe that, in the combat about to take place, the poor have an interest in the triumph of the right to work and the rich in the defense of the right to property.

Frédéric Bastiat
First Letter

It is right after the unfortuate experience of the National Workshops and within the frame of drafting the French Constitution of 1848 that Frédéric Bastiat opposes the right to work (which is very different from the right of working that does not imply an entitlement to it).

Being a positive right, it will necessarily be against the property right (if you force someone against his own will to hire someone else, you deny the former’s right to his own property) and its advocates have understood this properly. Thereforem they attempted to find an original sin in the property right so that it can be stepped upon to accomodate the right to work.

We shall see that the reasoning from Frédéric Bastiat is a bit weak because of the misconceptions of value at the time (as did Adam Smith and Karl Marx, value was considered to take its source in labour) but his thoughts are interesting nonetheless.

In any case, today’s quote is almost a caricature of the bias consisting in dividing society in classes with diverging interests. It is now obvious that property rights are at least as important to the poor as they are to the rich, which is illustrated everyday in the countries where it is too weak to support economic development.

Other quotes from Property and Plunder:
Part 2 of 5 – Part 3 of 5 – Part 4 of 5 – Part 5 of 5

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