We should understand that value does not consist in the want or the obstacle or the effort, but in the satisfaction;
At the end of the chapter, the editor of the Complete Works has added a note in the form of an epilogue titled “Disastrous Fallacies Derived from Exchange”.
The important point on which Bastiat is here leaning upon is the reason for which the benefits of exchange are so badly understood and why the legislator is impeding it almost everywhere in the world at about any time. His hypothesis is that society has evolved in such a way that men do not comprehend that exchange is made of both terms and that the services they receive are the balance for the services they render. Add to this the fact that we all have the bad habit of overestimating our own contribution as a producer and we end up in a situation whereby politicians can flatter the electorate as a producer while ignoring the consumer. What Bastiat does not mention here is that to stay on the side of the producer’s interest is done by creating concentrated benefits at a “reasonable” cost to the producer while any benefit or cost to the consumer is diffuse and therefore politically insignificant.
In order to support his idea, Frédéric Bastiat uses Robinson Crusoe again, which is the best way to help understand where the interests of the consumer are when he is also the producer himself because of the absence of exchange.
Other quotes from Exchange:
Introduction – Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Conclusion – Epilogue