Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Time and circumstance permit me a very little of the former to share something with you in the middle of the week. However, you're in luck. Over the years and with the help of some pretty damn smart people that I've been lucky enough to know, I have slowly been gaining a bit of knowledge. Such knowledge, when acquired at all, is usually done by reading the words of much smarter people than me (a list almost as long as that of the National Register). The best of that knowledge was acquired by reading original source material.
Thanks to their advice, I am able to say that I am becoming a good deal closer to the thinking of such giants as Thomas Sowell, Walter E Williams, Henry Hazlitt, and Milton Friedman (among others) whose books I have read. Many of these scholars and pundits have in turn referenced a writer from the 19th Century, Frederic Bastiat, in tying their efforts to those of the past. More specifically they reference an essay of his first published in 1850, “The Law”.
With these limitations in mind, I am would like to share some brief part of that which I am currently reading. I hope that you appreciate it in the same way that I have, and promise to come up with something more original for the weekend.
“Since everybody traffics in law for his own profit, we should like to do the same. We should like to make it produce the right to assistance, which is the poor man's plunder. To effect this, we ought to be electors and legislators, that we may organize, on a large scale, alms for our own class, as you have organized, on a large scale, protection for yours.”
“Yes, as long as it is admitted that the law may be diverted from its true mission, that it may violate property instead of securing it, everybody will be wanting to manufacture law, either to defend himself against plunder, or to organize it for his own profit.”
“This plunder may be only an exceptional blemish in the legislation of a people, and in this case, the best thing that can be done is, without so many speeches and lamentations, to do away with it as soon as possible, notwithstanding the clamors of interested parties. But how is it to be distinguished? Very easily. See whether the law takes from some persons that which belongs to them, to give to others what does not belong to them. See whether the law performs for the profit of one citizen, and, to the injury of others, an act that this citizen cannot perform without committing a crime.”
“And this is what has taken place. The delusion of the day is to enrich all classes at the expense of each other; it is to generalize plunder under the pretense of organizing it. Now, legal plunder may be exercised in an infinite multitude of plans for organization; tariffs, protection, perquisites, gratuities, encouragements, progressive taxation, free public education, right to work, right to profit, right to wages, right to assistance, right to instruments of labor, gratuity of credit, etc., etc. And it is all these plans, taken as a whole, with what they have in common, legal plunder, that takes the name of socialism.”