In other words, the workman and the entrepreneur are paid, in the name of justice, for services that they render; the landowner is paid, in the name of the law, for services that he does not render.

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Harmonies

Of course, today’s quote does not reflect the thoughts of Frédéric Bastiat but those of Joseph Garnier as well as those of most economists (British and French school) until the mid 19th century. This first part in the chapter Landed Property quotes a number of them (like Smith, Say or Garnier) in order to show what was their mistake. That a right emerges from legislation rather than being protected by legislation is only possible for constructivists, not for liberals.

This mistake, which consists in thinking that value can be created by the land, logically leads to the refusal to accept landed property by the Communists of the time who considered that such being the case, landed property is not legitimate. This will translate into land reform in the 20th century in a large bunch of countries. Frédéric Bastiat’s opinion is that if natural forces can indeed produce utility, they do not produce value and are not charged to the consumers. 

I note in passing the perceptiveness shown by Bastiat when he writes: “Otherwise property in capital goods would be as much exposed to communist attacks as landed property”. It is surprising to note that it was not yet the case in 1850 but history has then shown that, on this point, the Communists have been consistent in not accepting the private property of capital any more than that of landed property.

Other quotes from Landed Property:
Introduction – Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Conclusion

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