The Bastiat Collection
Автор(и) : Frédéric Bastiat
Издател : Ludwig von Mises Institute
Място на издаване : Auburn, Alabama, USA
Година на издаване : 2011
ISBN : 978-1-61016-200-5
Брой страници : 1042
Език : английски
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The world has always needed this: a gigantic collection of Bastiat's greatest work in a single, super-handy pocket edition, at a ridiculously affordable price. All of the best essays by this giant of liberty are here, 1000 plus pages of it, but in a compact package that it is still easy to read. In fact, it is a joy to hold and even more to read because the text just jumps off the page.
This book brings together his greatest works and represents the early generation of English translations. These translators were like Bastiat himself, people from the private sector who had a love of knowledge and truth and who altered their careers to vigorously pursue intellectual ventures, scholarly publishing, and advocacy of free trade.
Thus does this collection, totaling 1,000 pages plus extensive indexes, represent some of the best economics ever written. He was the first, and one of the very few, to be able to convincingly communicate the basic propositions of economics.
The vast majority of people who have learned anything about economics have relied on Bastiat or publications that were influenced by his work. This collection—possibly more than anything ever written about economics—is the antidote for economic illiteracy regarding such things as the inadvisability of tariffs and price controls, and everyone from the novice to the Ph.D. economist will benefit from reading it.
The collection consists of three sections, the first of which contains his best-known essays. In That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen, Bastiat equips the reader to become an economist in the first paragraph and then presents the story of the broken window where a hoodlum is thought to create jobs and prosperity by breaking windows. Bastiat solves the quandary of prosperity via destruction by noting that while the apparent prosperity is seen, what is unseen is that which would have been produced had the windows not been broken.
The second section is Bastiat’s Economic Sophisms, a collection of 35 articles on the errors of protectionism broadly conceived. Here Bastiat shows his mastery of the methods of argumentation— using basic logic and taking arguments to their logical extreme—to demonstrate and ridicule them as obvious fallacies. In his Negative Railroad Bastiat argues that if an artificial break in a railroad causes prosperity by creating jobs for boatmen, porters, and hotel owners, then there should be not one break, but many, and indeed the railroad should be just a series of breaks—a negative railroad.
The third section is Bastiat’s Economic Harmonies which was hastily written before his death in 1850 and is considered incomplete. Here he demonstrates that the interests of everyone in society are in harmony to the extent that property rights are respected. Because there are no inherent conflicts in the market, government intervention is unnecessary. Here we find a powerful but sadly neglected defense of the main thesis of old-style liberalism: that society and economy are capable of self-management. Unless this insight is understood and absorbed, a person can never really come to grips with the fundamental meaning of liberty.
"In the economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause—it is seen. The others unfold in succession—they are not seen: it is well for us if they are foreseen. Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference—the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen and also of those which it is necessary to foresee. Now this difference is enormous, for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the ultimate consequences are fatal, and the converse. Hence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil."
Frédéric Bastiat was born in Bayonne in 1801, and died in Rome in 1850. He spent the better part of his last years in Paris, as the editor of "Le Journal des Economistes", and from 1848, as a member of Parliament. As an economist, gifted with a very clear mind and a devastating sense of humor, he renewed the Economic science of his time by developing it from the standpoint of the consumer, i.e. the people. He was the tireless apostle of freedom of exchange and freedom of choice by individuals, without constraints or subsidies. His works are as fresh and relevant today as they were 150 years ago, and his numerous predictions about the evolution of Institutions and Societies have invariably come true. As a philosopher, he was the precursor of many present day Libertarians, building normative ethics on the foundations of individual liberty and responsibility. As a local judge, he was a paragon of efficiency and equity. As a politician with a great foresight, he was an advocate of minimum government, and fought against the indefinite extension of public expenditure. He criticized colonial expeditions and slavery. He argued for the separation of powers, for preventing MPs from being ministers at the same time, and for limiting the number of civil servants in the Assembly. He was for a greater participation of women in politics. His major writings are “The Law”, “The State”, “Economic Sophisms”, “What Is Seen And What Is Not Seen”, “Economic Harmonies”. They have been translated into many languages.