Must we always start with the fatal premise that all those who govern are guardians and all the governed are wards?

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Harmonies

Today’s quote that follows the previous one in the reasoning about the mutual-aid societies by Frédéric Bastiat should lead to a major pondering about responsibility. In the paragraphe preceding it, Bastiat foresees an incredible number of woes to hit the French society, which are now obvious for anybody taking a critical look at the way responsibility has shifted from individuals to the government (education, health, unemployment, pensions…).

The source of these woes if what the French blogger h16 calls the governmommy (my translation, see here in French). It is sad to observe that Frédéric Bastiat warned us as soon as 1850. One has to admit that elected people tend to believe, as does much of humanity, that they are right. The issue is that institutions should allow for some balance when they are wrong. Unfortunately, this is the function of markets that allow to generate profits for those who “are right” and losses for those who “are wrong”. It is therefore highly improbable that a political institution can enjoy efficient auto-regulation. As a consequence, the best solution is to limit the powers of government so that, even if elected politicians are wrong, the damage can be controlled.

This is not what we observe in France nowadays, where politicians take credit for everything and anything that is functioning and hence, become responsible for anything that is not functioning properly. They see themselves as the guardians of the people indeed. I am not sure if the governed see themselves as wards but if one considers that socialism is an attempt to adapt what is functioning well within a family to the society as a whole, it is indeed seducing a large part of the French population who thus accepts the subordination relationship that the ones who govern are craving for.

Other quotes from Wages:
Middleman – Self-interest – Respect – Perfection – Decision – Responsibility – Inequalities

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