Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Thoughts on the Federal Budget

Necessarily, someone is left out and everyone is worse off.

From "Government", by Frederic Bastiat, 1848:

Man recoils from trouble - from suffering; and yet he is condemned by nature to the suffering of privation, if he does not take the trouble to work. He has to choose, then, between these two evils. What means can he adopt to avoid both? There remains now, and there will remain, only one way, which is, to enjoy the labor of others. Such a course of conduct prevents the trouble and the satisfaction from preserving their natural proportion, and causes all the trouble to become the lot of one set of persons, and all the satisfaction that of another. This is the origin of slavery and of plunder, whatever its form may be - whether that of wars, imposition, violence, restrictions, frauds, &c. - monstrous abuses, but consistent with the thought which has given them birth. Oppression should be detested and resisted - it can hardly be called absurd.

Slavery is disappearing, thank heaven! and, on the other hand, our disposition to defend our property prevents direct and open plunder from being easy.

One thing, however, remains - it is the original inclination which exists in all men to divide the lot of life into two parts, throwing the trouble upon others, and keeping the satisfaction for themselves. It remains to be shown under what new form this sad tendency is manifesting itself.

The oppressor no longer acts directly and with his own powers upon his victim. No, our conscience has become too sensitive for that. The tyrant and his victim are still present, but there is an intermediate person between them, which is the Government - that is, the Law itself. What can be better calculated to silence our scruples, and, which is perhaps better appreciated, to overcome all resistance? We all therefore, put in our claim, under some pretext or other, and apply to Government. We say to it, " I am dissatisfied at the proportion between my labor and my enjoyments. I should like, for the sake of restoring the desired equilibrium, to take a part of the possessions of others. But this would be dangerous. Could not you facilitate the thing for me? Could you not find me a good place? or check the industry of my competitors? or, perhaps, lend me gratuitously some capital which, you may take from its possessor? Could you not bring up my children at the public expense? or grant me some prizes? or secure me a competence when I have attained my fiftieth year? By this mean I shall gain my end with an easy conscience, for the law will have acted for me, and I shall have all the advantages of plunder, without its risk or its disgrace!"

As it is certain, on the one hand, that we are all making some similar request to the Government; and as, on the other, it is proved that Government cannot satisfy one party without adding to the labor of the others, until I can obtain another definition of the word Government I feel authorized to give it my own. Who knows but it may obtain the prize? Here it is:

"Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else."

For now, as formerly, every one is, more or less, for profiting by the labors of others. No one would dare to profess such a sentiment; he even hides it from himself; and then what is done? A medium is thought of; Government is applied to, and every class in its turn comes to it, and says, "You, who can take justifiably and honestly, take from the public, and we will partake." Alas! Government is only too much disposed to follow this diabolical advice, for it is composed of ministers and officials - of men, in short, who, like all other men, desire in their hearts, and always seize every opportunity with eagerness, to increase their wealth and influence. Government is not slow to perceive the advantages it may derive from the part which is entrusted to it by the public. It is glad to be the judge and the master of the destinies of all; it will take much, for then a large share will remain for itself; it will multiply the number of its agents; it will enlarge the circle of its privileges; it will end by appropriating a ruinous proportion.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

My main question when going to vote is who will be the most fiscally responsible with my money, who will work to reduce government and the administration inside government bodies. That said, as a young family in the province of Ontario this is the best budget I could hope for. I am happy with tax breaks for my kids. These tax breaks are needed for the middle class in Canada, where overtaxation has gone on for years. The federal government obviously want the middle class family vote and for now, they would have mine.
Internationally they feel we are on the right track reflected with the increase in the Canadian dollar yesterday.

Pietr said...

That Bastiat thought work was a necessary evil?
His problem.Sucker.