It behooves the one who seeks the satisfaction to determine whether it is respectable, moral, reasonable, beneficial. The responsibility rests with him.
After explaining how the consumer is at the heart of the economy, Frédéric Bastiat looks into the morality of consumption in order to conclude that it is always the consumer who is in the center of this other issue.
Still nowadays, one can see individuals who are up against the immorality of some consumption (narcotics, tobacco, Russian gaz, etc…) and ask that the producers of these be punished. Independently from the fact that the government should not necessarily decide what is moral and what is not, one of the issue raised by these requests is how relevant the prohibitions are. If the consumer is “guilty” of his consumption, he is the one who should be punished rather than the producer who is only responding to existing demand by producing an effort.
We are here reminded that if economics are amoral, they are not immoral. The potential prohibitions and restrictions pertaining to morality are therefore political and it is not absurd to have an opinion on them from a strict economic perspective without assessing the underlying morality.
Other quotes from Producer and Consumer:
Introduction – Main part – Conclusion