I do not think that people are wrong in the sense that they honour the rich; their mistake is to honour the honest wealthy gentleman and the deceitful wealthy person indiscriminately…

Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works volume I, page 8 (in French)
Letter dated December the 8th, 1821

After extracting quotes from volumes IV, V (Pamphlets) and VI (Economic Harmonies) from the Complete Works in 7 volumes (1862-1864), I am resuming reading the correspondance in order to add some more quotes. I do not think I shall systematically find a quote in each letter but rather choose one from time to time, according to my inspiration. I start today with this letter dated December 8th, 1821 addressed to Victor Calmètes and appearing in this book that starts in 1819. I link the French version of the Complete Works: do not hesitate to add a link in the comments if an English translation is available.

Today’s quote appeared interesting to me in the sense that it shows not only how far the society has evolved over the past 200 years but also how much more there is to understand in our quest for truth. Indeed, we can see that, at the time, the rich man was honoured indiscriminately (which remind us of the phrase from Deng Xiaoping: “不管黑猫白猫,能捉到老鼠就是好猫” – “It does not matter whether the cat is black or white as soon as it catches mice”), wherever his wealth came from. We are experiencing the opposite today when the rich man is despised, wherever his wealth comes from. Unfortunately, one can lament that the way society has evolved focuses on the honour or dishonour of being rich, indiscriminately from the source of wealth.

What matters is not to be rich or not but to be honest or deceitful – society has not evolved on this topic. The issue may well come from the fact that it may sometimes be easy to assess the wealth of one or the other but it is much more difficult to know where it comes from.

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