Monday, March 25, 2013


Frederic Bastiat:
It is absolutely necessary that this question of legal plunder should be determined, and there are only three solutions of it:
1. When the few plunder the many.
2. When everybody plunders everybody else.
3. When nobody plunders anybody.
Partial plunder, universal plunder, absence of plunder, amongst these we have to make our choice.  The law can only produce one of these results. [THE LAW, 61]
I believe this is correct.  Partial plunder seems to characterize most of history.  I say we should choose the third alternative, absence of plunder.  The United States Constitution was a good beginning for a system of political economy that might approximate the third alternative.  Alas, over time the Constitution has been lost [see Barnett, Restoring The Lost Constitution], and our system of political economy seems to have become an excellent illustration of universal plunder.  As you might guess, neither partial plunder nor universal plunder offer paths by which prosperity can be enjoyed by all.

Law, Liberty & This Odious Perversion

Frederic Bastiat:
In fact, if law were confined to causing all persons, all liberties, and all properties to be respected--if it were merely the organization of individual right and individual defense--if it were the obstacle, the check, the chastisement opposed to all oppression, to all plunder--is it likely that we should dispute much, as citizens, on the subject of the greater or less universality of suffrage?  Is it likely that it would compromises that greatest of advantages, the public peace?  Is it likely that the excluded classes would not quietly wait for their turn?  Is it likely that the enfranchised classes would be very jealous of their privilege?  And is it not clear, that the interest of all being one and the same, some would act without much inconvenience to the others?  But if the fatal principle should come to be introduced, that, under pretense of organization, regulation, protection, or encouragement, the law may take from one party in order to give to another, help itself to the wealth acquired by all the classes that it may increase that of one class, whether that of the agriculturists, the manufacturers, the ship owners, or artists and comedians; then certain, in this case, there is no class which may not try, and with reason, to place its hand upon the law, that would not demand with fury its rights of election and eligibility, and that would overturn society rather than not obtain it.  Even beggars and vagabonds will prove to you that they have an incontestable title to it. . . 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. . . Is there any need to prove that this odious perversion of law is a perpetual source of hatred and discord, that it even tends to social disorganization. [The Law, 57-58]