<This speech was delivered to the Dallas Chapter of the Bastiat Society on June 17, 2021>
In 1847, French economist Frédéric Bastiat, this society’s namesake, published a facetious petition to the king now known as “The Right Hand and the Left”. In it he laid bare the fallacy of some of his contemporaries that if you simply create more work, regardless of whether it’s productive work, everyone will be wealthier. The proposition he makes to the king is to require everyone to work with their left hand and not their right. He proposes:
No young woman will be idle… Not only will there be more young women employed, but each of them will earn more, for they will be unable to supply the demand; and if competition shall again show itself, it will not be among the seamstresses who make the dresses, but among the fine ladies who wear them.
You must see then, Sire, that our proposal is not only in strict conformity with the economic traditions of the government, but is in itself essentially moral and popular.”
This passage captures some of the bizarre policy logic that New Zealand embraced one hundred years after it was published, which several decades later resulted in the country being on the brink of economic ruin. This thinking is also behind the unrelenting series of policies being adopted in Washington state, where my family moved from last August. And the passage highlights the morality and immorality of polices, one area I will focus on today.
Read more at The Kerrant here.
Written by: Nicholas Kerr, LSPI Adjunct Scholar