It is too bad, perhaps, that tokay wine is not as plentiful, and therefore not as cheap, as ordinary red wine. But this is not a social evil; it was imposed on us by Nature.

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Harmonies

The third mistake is still attributable to Adam Smith and consists in finding value in labour, and worse, only in manual labour. This idea was then appropriated by Karl Marx with all the fatal consequences that it created.

At the end of this part on labour, the editor has added in 1864 a long note from the author’s manuscript in which he digresses on competition of efforts, thus supporting his thesis according to which value lies in the service. There, he mentions the issue with monopoly from which I gathered today’s quote. Indeed, there exist “natural” monopolies (e.g. Le Clos Vougeot) and artificial monopolies (protectionnist ones). Both have the character of creating scarcity and thus to increase the value of their production. Frédéric Bastiat here warns us that they should not be confused – there is no reason to fight politically against the former while the latter is generally the result of political plunder and should be banned. It is a pity that he has not been heard any better. When observing the policies distorting competition in the very name of competition and fight against monopoly, one wonders when these concepts might be understood by the very politicians who manipulate them and the public at large who support them.

Other quotes from On Value:
Introduction – Part 1 of 10 – Part 2 of 10 – Part 3 of 10 – Part 4 of 10 – Part 5 of 10 – Part 6 of 10 – Part 7 of 10 – Part 8 of 10 – Part 9 of 10 – Part 10 of 10 – Conclusion – Epilogue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *