Families that Discuss together, stay together

Families that Discuss together, stay together
Families that Discuss together, stay together

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bastiat's Economic Harmonies

A summary...

The French politician and economist, Frédéric Bastiat was concerned with France’s unfortunate direction towards an artificial social order called Socialism and set out to convince his countryman to adopt the notion of liberty, the natural social order. His passion for freedom gave him an interest for free trade, which subject he examined in his book, Economic Harmonies. In argument with the socialist’s scarcity mentality, he established the belief that the interests of mankind are essentially harmonious and that the more an individual produced the more he blessed those around him. The same is true for a nation: the more a nation produced the more it blessed the world.

Among many of the socialists’ views were the beliefs that as the rich became richer, the poor became more impoverished; as population increased, food would become scarce; and as private property is theft, it should be abolished with all property becoming communal. He sums up their ideas that mankind is unable to make the right choices and that liberty must be the culprit. Underestimating the good and denying the progress made by humanity, the socialist persisted in, “seeking out evils and exaggerating them beyond measure.” Reducing liberty and free choice then became the first motive as they created, “systematic obstructionism, parliamentary bickering, street insurrections, revolutions, crises, factions, wild notions, demands advanced by all men to govern under all possible forms, new systems, as dangerous as they are absurd, which teach the people to look to the government for everything.” In simple terms, people could not do anything for themselves so the government must step in to provide.

The socialists were particularly caught up with the seemingly evil notion of self-interest. They believed that it was the root of evil in a society. The capitalist’s self-interest exploits the proletarian; self-interested greed leads to monopoly; over-population leads to scarce resources were some of their complaints. Frequently misunderstood by humanity are the two social sciences, moral and political economy. The moral realm directs our moral character and includes religious sentiment, parental affection, filial devotion, love, friendship, patriotism, charity, and all godly virtues. The remaining social science runs the economy and includes the single and cold domain of self-interest. It is because of self-interest, observes Bastiat, that the man produces and acquires, but it inevitably blesses society.

Bastiat contended that exploitation, monopoly and scarce resources are problems that arise when there is a disbelief in Providence. If men are ruled by virtuous principles then their self-interest will be in harmony with nature. He urged his people to have faith in God who knows our wants and will provide. “Let us, therefore stop worrying about the fate of mankind,” wrote Bastiat, “Thousands of centuries lie ahead of it; and in any case, without asking political economists to settle problems that are out of their field, let us confidently leave the fate of future generations in the hands of Him who will call them into existence.” With the help of God, whatever his children cannot do, He makes up for it. Bastiat historically showed that, “As capital increases, the capitalists’ absolute share in the total production increases and their relative share decreases. On the other hand, the workers’ share increases both relatively and absolutely.” History has shown that in a free society, Bastiat is right.
Post a Comment