|c/o The Moorfield Storey Blog|
Listen, as it were, to a distinguished European voice from the past, and then compare his definition of socialism to the redistributionist policies our 44th President has implemented for the past three years.
“[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, and even aid to the point of shedding French blood, for all oppressed people on the face of the earth.
“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?
“Finally . . . we shall see the entire people transformed into petitioners. Landed property, agriculture, industry, commerce, shipping, industrial companies, all will bestir themselves to claim favors from the State. The public treasury will be literally pillaged. Everyone will have good reasons to prove that legal fraternity should be interpreted in this sense: ‘Let me have the benefits, and let others pay the costs.’ Everyone’s effort will be directed toward snatching a scrap of fraternal privilege from the legislature. The suffering classes, although having the greatest claim, will not always have the greatest success.”
~ Political economist and member of the French assembly Claude Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850), a classical liberal considered a forerunner of the Austrian/Libertarian school of economics, from his essay “Justice and fraternity,” published in the academic periodical Journal des Économistes; June 15, 1848