Snippets of Wisdom   Leave a comment

This thought didn’t come from me, but from a college-aged young man we know. He suggested the presidential candidates for 2020 need a “Bastiat for Beginners” course.

It started out with him asking me to remind him of my slogan for 2016 —

Crooks on my left, clowns on my right.

I’m not voting for either of you.

Toby explained he was really too young and immature to understand what I meant when I said that three years ago, but when he argued with me, I suggested he go read some intelligent discourse and come back to me before the next presidential election.

Image result for bastiat parasitic and voracious intermediary meme

He remembers being angry that I didn’t listen to him. After all, I haven’t been in a classroom for over a decade and times change and what do I know anyway? Of course, I didn’t stop learning, not when I graduated high school, not when I got my BA, and not when I got my Masters. I just gave myself permission to study books I’d never had time to study before — books that teachers find subversive because they suggest government employers are not all that good for society. Let us remember who most teachers work for.

I thought the conversation was over because I certainly don’t feel like I have more than an hour to waste on a stubborn 17-year-old, but my son (also 17 at the time) emailed Toby a pdf of Frederic Bastiat’s That Which is Seen and That Which is Unseen and Toby took it from there.

Now, at 20, he thinks Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Donald Trump and the other myriad candidates should be forced to sit down and study Frederic Bastiat’s writings before they continue forward in this race. He also suggested Lysander Spooner, Randolph Bourne, Milton Friedman and John Locke, but I doubt they’re ready for the full monty treatment. For the record, Toby found those authors all on his own because Kiernan opened a door of reason for him. The kid plans to tackle Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty this winter. Toby’s a Political Science major so he could actually do something with this besides just chatter on the Internet.

I don’t think we’re going to get the 30-odd people who are running for US President for 2020 to get together in a classroom and study Bastiat and even if they did – well, yeah, they would refuse to absorb most of it (Elizabeth Warren, Donald Trump and Joe Biden are all about on the same intellectual level and not amenable to learning). They already know everything they need to know to force me to live the life they believe I should live and want to live because they know better than me what my life should look like. Most of them don’t want to reason out what is good for society. They’re all about the feelings and virtue signalling. They don’t really care if their programs enslave people.

But hey, that doesn’t mean I can share some of the wisdom of Bastiat with willing readers. As you read the snippets, think about how that applies to 2020 and the US Presidency. I think if you do it right, you’ll never quite see the nanny state in the same way you did before.

Snippets of Wisdom

  1. “The State is the great fiction through which everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else.”
  2. Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference: the one takes account only of the visible effect; the other takes account of both the effects which are seen and 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.”
  3. “[The socialists declare] that the State owes subsistence, well-being, and education to all its citizens; that it should be generous, charitable, involved in everything, devoted to everybody; …that it should intervene directly to relieve all suffering, satisfy and anticipate all wants, furnish capital to all enterprises, enlightenment to all minds, balm for all wounds, asylums for all the unfortunate… Who would not like to see all these benefits flow forth upon the world from the law, as from an inexhaustible source? … But is it possible? … Whence does [the State] draw those resources that it is urged to dispense by way of benefits to individuals? Is it not from the individuals themselves? How, then, can these resources be increased by passing through the hands of a parasitic and voracious intermediary?”
  4. “It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.”
  5. “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
  6. “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”
  7. “If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?”
  8. “It is not true that the function of law is to regulate our consciences, our ideas, our wills, our education, our opinions, our work, our trade, our talents, or our pleasures. The function of law is to protect the free exercise of these rights, and to prevent any person from interfering with the free exercise of these same rights by any other person…The existence of persons and property preceded the existence of the legislator, and his function is only to guarantee their safety.”
  9. “Leave people alone. God has given organs to this frail creature; let them develop and grow strong by exercise, use, experience, and liberty.”
  10. “Misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe.”
  11. “The real cost of the State is the prosperity we do not see, the jobs that don’t exist, the technologies to which we do not have access, the businesses that do not come into existence, and the bright future that is stolen from us. The State has looted us just as surely as a robber who enters our home at night and steals all that we love.”
  12. “Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone.”
  13. “You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don’t you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough.”
  14. “The mission of the law is not to oppress persons and plunder them of their property, even though the law may be acting in a philanthropic spirit. Its purpose is to protect persons and property…. If you exceed this proper limit—If you attempt to make the law religious, fraternal, equalizing, philanthropic, industrial, or artistic—you will then be lost in uncharted territory, in vagueness and uncertainty, in a forced utopia or, even worse, in a multitude of utopias, each striving to seize the law and impose it on you.”

Just read each one at a time and pause and think about the implications in our present society and the election of 2020.

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