For each individual, for each industry, for each nation, the surest way of becoming rich is to enrich others.

Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 2, pages 238 to 246 (in French)
September 29th, 1846

In this speech at the Montesquieu venue in Paris, Frédéric Bastiat shows in the form of tales the futilities of the protectionnists and monopoly. He shows how protection is necessarily unjust because it is made for the benefit of a minority. In case it would be “just” in benefitting everybody, “it [would not be] relative scarcity, but absolute scarcity indeed that it [would] provide”. Indeed, protection aims at enriching its beneficiary by increasing the price of his production, however, in case it would satisfy everybody, all prices would need to increase by reducing the production of each.

Today’s quote highlights the mistake consisting in seeing wealth through the price of things (i.e., their scarcity) rather than in the abundance of things. Here, we can catch a glimpse of the ideas that will be displayed in the first sophism of the first series. It may seem counterintuitive to think that somebody’s wealth allows others to enrich themselves but as soon as we understand that, in order to be rich, one has to satisfy a maximum of others’ needs, the only way to enrich oneself is indeed by enriching others (bar dishonest plunder, of course).

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