Thursday, May 13, 2010


Frederic Bastiat believed in looking at the big picture. Bastiat was a French economist in the middle 1800’s who promoted the idea that the role of government is to defend life, liberty, and property. He is also considered to be one of the forerunners to the Austrian school of thought. All decision-makers, economists, and government policy makers would be well-served to consider some of his ideas right now, or perhaps it is already too late.

I have become more and more skeptical and much more cynical in regards to recent economic decisions. The policies that are being adopted, and the decisions that have been made here and in Europe, will affect us forever. Have policy makers really considered the big picture? Are they looking at the long run effects of their decisions? And whom they are affecting and in what way?

Bastiat also believed that there are the seen and unseen effects of decisions;

"In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause - it is seen. The others unfold in succession - they are not seen: it is well for us, if they are foreseen. Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference - the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen, and also of those which it is necessary to foresee. Now this difference is enormous, for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favourable, 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."

-That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen, the Introduction

This quote makes me shiver. What do you think?

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