In all things, there is a sign that progress is ongoing, namely simplification.

Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 2, pages 81 to 93 (in French
April 1846

The discussions around a trade agreement with Belgium are at the origin of this article from Frédéric Bastiat in the Journal des Economistes. If he is convinced that “trade agreements are always and necessarily in contradiction with healthy doctrines”, he welcomes the opportunity of opening a debate in parliament and the press, which is essential in order for public opinion to change course. He mentions how pessimistic he is about the immediate result but also his optimism by showing how much time the British government needed in order to progress towards free-trade, convinced that the French government would follow.

Today’s quote made me think immediately about the famous quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry who said: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” I remember flipping through the laundry list of tariffs planned in the Trans Pacific Partnership that was eventually aborted by the United States – it was a bureaucratic horror show defining products in incredible details and thousands of rates to be reduced over decades. Progress on this matter still have a long way to go.

At the very moment of writing these lines though, one can rejoice about (or at least observe) what is going on in Argentina. Further to the election of Javier Milei as president, one of the first reforms that he is attempting to implement is precisely to simplify the regulation that has throttled the country – future will tell if the expected results will be met.

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