Economic Sophisms/Chapter 23
|←Conclusion||Economic Sophisms by Frédéric Bastiat
Physiology of Spoliation
|Two Principles of Morality→|
the air which we breathe; and yet the realization of his desires would not be at variance with the good of society.
It may be said that if these wishes were granted, the work of the producer would become more and more limited, and would end with being stopped for want of aliment. But why? Because, on this extreme supposition, all imaginable wants and desires would be fully satisfied. Man, like Omnipotence, would create all things by a simple act of volition. Well, on this hypotheses, what reason should we have to regret the stoppage of industrial production?
I made the supposition, not long ago, of the existence of an assembly composed of workmen, each member of which, in his capacity of producer, should have the power of passing a law embodying his secret wish, and I said that the code which would emanate from that assembly would be monopoly systematized, the theory of scarcity reduced to practice.
In the same way, a chamber in which each should consult exclusively his own immediate interest as a consumer, would tend to systematize liberty, to suppress all restrictive measures, to overthrow all artificial barriers—in a word, to realize the theory of plenty.
Hence it follows:
That to consult exclusively the immediate interest of the producer, is to consult an interest which is anti-social;
That to take for basis exclusively the immediate interest of the consumer, would be to take for basis the general interest.
Let me enlarge on this view of the subject a little, at the risk of being prolix.
A radical antagonism exists between seller and buyer.
The former desires that the subject of the bargain should be scarce, its supply limited, and its price high.
The latter desires that it should be abundant, its supply large, and its price low.
The laws, which should be at least neutral, take the part of the seller against the buyer, of the producer against the consumer, of dearness against cheapness, of scarcity against abundance.
- The author has modified somewhat the terms of this proposition in a posterior work.—See Harmonies Économiques, chaper xi.—EDITOR.
- We have not in French a substantive to express the idea opposed to