Using the excuse of supporting the wages of the workers, you are supporting your own profits.

Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 2, pages 12 to 15 (in French)
December 13th, 1846

In this article, Frédéric Bastiat is answering the criticism of fighting against theories rather than facts. He explains that facts are not sufficient in themselves to understand a situation and that reasoning is not an option in the fight against protectionist ideas, while noting a few facts in order to illustrate what he means.

He concludes in exposing the protectionists who use the argument of the common welfare in order to implement policies, which effects are to create personal benefits to some at the cost of the many.

Today’s quote underlines this accusation but could be extended beyond the cynical policies of the protectionists. It translates the fact that the reason to implement a policy, be it a good intention or a malignant one, does not guarantee its results in any way and that facts only allow us to judge the policy. This is what Thomas Sowell will expose when he writes: “If there is any lesson in the history of ideas, it is that good intentions tell you nothing about the actual consequences.

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