Sunday, March 20, 2011

Excerpts from "The Law" - III

You say, “There are men who have no money,” and
you apply to the law. But the law is not a self-supplied
fountain, whence every stream may obtain supplies independently
of society. Nothing can enter the public treasury,
in favor of one citizen or one class, but what other citizens
and other classes have been forced to send to it. If
everyone draws from it only the equivalent of what he has
contributed to it, your law, it is true, is no plunderer, but
it does nothing for men who want money—it does not
promote equality. It can only be an instrument of equalization
as far as it takes from one party to give to another,
and then it is an instrument of plunder. Examine, in this
light, the protection of tariffs, subsidies, right to profit,
right to labor, right to assistance, free public education,
progressive taxation, gratuitousness of credit, social
workshops, and you will always find at the bottom legal
plunder, organized injustice.

You say, “There are men who want knowledge,” and
you apply to the law. But the law is not a torch that sheds
light that originates within itself. It extends over a society
where there are men who have knowledge, and others
who have not; citizens who want to learn, and others who
are disposed to teach. It can only do one of two things:
either allow a free operation to this kind of transaction,
i.e., let this kind of want satisfy itself freely; or else preempt
the will of the people in the matter, and take from
some of them sufficient to pay professors commissioned
to instruct others for free. But, in this second case there
cannot fail to be a violation of liberty and property—legal

You say, “Here are men who are wanting in morality
or religion,” and you apply to the law; but law is force,
and need I say how far it is a violent and absurd enterprise
to introduce force in these matters?

Frederic Bastiat - The Law(1850)

Bastiat's The Law can be found for free here and here, or at Amazon .

Other excerpts linked here: I, II, III, IV

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