Let us bless the obstacles that the high cost of fuel in our country puts in the way of the multiplication of steam engines.
Auguste de Saint-Chamans quoted by Frédéric Bastiat
Most of this chapter on wealth exposes the mistakes that may have been done rather than defining what wealth is.
According to Frédéric Bastiat, the worst mistake is to assimilate wealth with the way wealth is obtained (through effort) instead of assimilating it with the way it disappears (through consumption). The fact that the definition of value was still subject to debate in his time clearly does not help to find the solution to the problem. He notably exposes the fact that, in order to get around intellectual contradictions, some economists had concluded that there existed a utility value and an exchange value, which eventually does not solve anything. It is to be noted that Karl Marx will stick to these concepts in Capital (published much later in 1867), which may explain why it is inintelligible for reading and his thoughts turn to gobbledygook in the first part.
Today’s quote is one of the absurd consequences of the mistake that consists in seeing wealth in the production of effort. Unfortunately, it is still a very widespread mistake nowadays, often exposed by citing Frédéric Bastiat and The Broken Window fallacy.
Other quotes from Wealth:
Introduction – Thesis – Conclusion – Epilogue