Frédéric Bastiat’s The Law has rapidly become my favorite book, particularly pertaining to the direction, or rather ‘misdirection’, that our political leaders are taking this nation through the misuse of law. This book is 160+ years old, and was written around the time of the French Revolution, but you’d swear it was written just yesterday for Americans in the here and now! I could reference numerous points throughout this magnificent work, as I have before and am sure to again, but for those who may not be as familiar with it, let me just give you a taste of this man’s profoundness with passages from the first page and the last…and an appropriate Sunday posting to boot!
We hold from God the gift, which includes all others. This gift is life – physical, intellectual, and moral life.
But life cannot maintain itself alone. The Creator of life has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting it. In order that we may accomplish this, He has provided us with a collection of marvelous faculties. And He has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources. By the application of our faculties to these natural resources, we convert them into products, and use them. This process is necessary in order that life may run its appointed course.
Life, faculties, production – in other words, individuality, liberty, property – this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it.
Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.
God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies. He has provided a social form as well as a human form. And these social organs of persons are so constituted that they will develop themselves harmoniously in the clean air of liberty. Away, then, with quacks and organizers! Away with their rings, chains, hooks, and pincers! Away with their artificial systems! Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their pious moralizations!
And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.
Frédéric Bastiat (1801 - 1850)