It may well work. However, is this part of the mission of governments?

Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 2, pages 219 to 221 (in French)
January 16th, 1848

In this short article, Frédéric Bastiat responds to a reader who recognises the detrimental effects of protectionism but wonders about its potential good effects (the idea here being to encourage the lazy worker to produce more, for his own as society’s benefit).

Today’s quote shows that the end does not always justify the means. Indeed, after doubting about the favourable cost/benefit calculation of the situation, he goes further in speculating that the calculation be indeed favourable. In the absence of a reflexion on the role of the State and the dangers that would represent an autocratic power granted to a few individuals, it could seem logical that a favourable policy would be implemented. Frédéric Bastiat warns us here against the absence of a restraining Constitution or what could be a dictatorship of the majority. No, the fact that the result of an action is good is not sufficient to make it legitimate.

It is absolutely necessary to define the extent of the government power in order to avoid drift. Its mission needs to be specified and it should not have the power to do whatever good thought up by presidents, ministers or members of parliament. In the present case in which the idea would be to fight against some people’s laziness, if the suggested solution could seem to be acceptable (it is not), nothing could guarantee that allowing a government to adopt any solution will allow to choose the best (or the least bad one – getting rid of laziness could also be done through the extermination of lazy people and the XXth century has shown that this type of “solution” has been attempted for similar evils).

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