In the same way, the value of an industry is based only on the wealth of its customers.
After looking at crisis situations in England that have been attributed to liberal reforms of the Peel government (a reminder that causality and correlation are two different things), Frédéric Bastiat focuses on the “revenue” side of the budget.
The details that are presented with figures do not present much interest, can be argued upon and are now completely obsolete. However, the principles that he exposes, analyses or supports desserve all our attention. We have seen that he was convinced of the relevance of the Laffer curve – this is the frame into which today’s quote is inserted. I like it because it goes beyond the issues of fiscal doctrine and is in the midst of the debate between liberals and constructivists. Indeed, the latter often reason on the basis of a “zero-sum game” that would justify redistributive systems in order to share the wealth between the haves and the have nots. The position of the liberals is that wealth is created daily and that the best way of sharing it is “laisser-faire”, the enrichment of some leading to the enrichment of others (and this is desirable, even if the enrichment of the latter is at a different level). I also believe that the “socialist” experiments of the 20th century have shown that the constructivists are on the wrong side of the argument but, obviously, there are a lot of people who still believe the opposite.
Other quotes from Peace and Freedom:
Introduction – Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Conclusion