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Who is Frédéric Bastiat?

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Tags Legal SystemHistory of the Austrian School of Economics

07/03/2018Jörg Guido Hülsmann

The life and work of the 19th century economist and statesman, Claude-Frédéric Bastiat (1801–1850), are highlighted by Guido Hülsmann. Beginning his work in economics to fight against tariffs and to argue for free trade, Bastiat published The Law in 1850. His influence spread quickly as it was translated into many languages all over Europe. In it he argued that the whole point of law is to protect the private property of every member of society.

Thanks to Bastiat, we have the brilliant illustration of the broken window fallacy from his essay “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen.” To see destruction as a source of economic growth by increasing income to re-build, Bastiat argued, is to focus only what is immediately visible and missing the loss of pre-existing wealth.

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