There would no longer be any limit to the expansion of the powers that be, apart from riot, or to increase in the budget, apart from bankruptcy.
Complete Works, Volume 1, pages 461 to 480
July 1st, 1846
After noting that neither the government forces nor the opposition can be satisfied with the way debates are conducted in parliament, Frédéric Bastiat announces that the reason for this is the absence of a proper constitution limiting the powers of government. According to him, there lacks a doctrine that would allow to define in a much more constrained way the decisions that should be made by the state (sovereign prerogatives) and those that should be made by private individuals (anything else).
Today’s quote seems particularly visionary to me because it reflects the current situation perfectly. Indeed, when observing the messy movement of the “yellow vests” in France that occurred before the crisis created at the occasion of the covid pandemic, how could we not see in it a “riot” against an almighty government that multiplies the frustrations among the people? As to the increase of the budget, the French government has been for a little while now on top of the big spenders in the world after the openly communist countries. Moreover, if Greece and Argentina have allowed us to see what a country’s bankruptcy can look like, it seems that we are not able to learn from them and that the normalisation of interest rates is pushing the French government closer to the abyss each day under the sun.
The future will tell how France will get itself out of the current situation but I fear that if it were not through thorough liberal reforms, it may well be at the cost of a deep fall in the wealth of its inhabitants, enormous losses of liberty and potentially, through a new devastating war.