We ought to pay for our chains when we love them, given that the state never gives us anything for nothing, not even irons.

Frédéric Bastiat
Part 4

Today’s quote is reminding me of the famous answer by François Hollande to a question pertaining to the financing of a new governmental spending item: “The State will pay for it”. It seems that what he had in mind was merely the technical aspect of it while the journalist had in mind the philosophical aspect of it – in any case it had created an uproar and it was symptomatic of the gap existing between politicians (who decide) and the people (who pays).

Concerning the budget of 1849, Frédéric Bastiat insists on the fact that spending must be reduced further that the revenues because this is the only way to get back to a healthy financial situation. He does not dig much into the details but shows what are the obstacles to spending reduction (the “acquired benefits” of which François Mitterrand would later promise not to touch upon) while he warns against the slide of governmental spending that inevitably leads to complete centralism, including for housing, clothes and food (see the communist experiences of the 20th century).

An interesting point pertains to the suggested methodology – as he recognises that vested interests are bound to any government spending, he advocates a progressive reduction in order to avoid economic shocks, which reminds me of the later suggestion by Milton Friedman to eliminate tariffs (reducing them in tranches of 20% over the coming five years).

Other quotes from Peace and Freedom:
Introduction – Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Conclusion

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