Champion of Liberty, Free Enterprise, Free Trade, Common Sense, Uncommon Sense and Myth-Buster Extraordinaire
"The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else."
Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850)
Claude Frédéric Bastiat was born in Bayonne, France, on June 30, 1801, 207 years ago today. The easiest way to depict him is as the French Adam Smith, a free-market advocate whose main weapons in debate were wit and satire. In most economic textbooks, he is described as a "pamphleteer" touting free trade in particular, free enterprise more generally, and economic and political liberty. I suppose today he would be considered a Classical Liberal or Libertarian, and he would be a frequent and very popular guest on CNBC's Kudlow and Company.
In 2001, I gave the keynote at a conference in Dax, France, celebrating Bastiat's 200th birthday. The title of my remarks was "Why Bastiat is My Hero." I followed up with a piece in the Wall Street Journal, "In Praise of an Economic Revolutionary." If you are interested — and you should be — click here for the speech and here for the article.
While Bastiat wrote over 200 years ago, his writing is just as fresh and his views are just as relevant today. We need him.