In Part one I introduced Frederic Bastiat and gave you a little background information on him and his writings. You can review that here: Part I . You’re good? Okay, glad you got that all reviewed and are ready to start tackling the source and do some deep thinking analysis here. Today we’ll cover the first three sections. don’t worry, Bastiat broke the pamphlet down into over seventy sections, I think the longest one was only four paragraphs. Most of the others are one or two paragraphs. Here we go
Section One: Life Is a Gift from God
Well, it is 1850. It’s not hard to see what Bastiat is pointing out. He is using the same argument that the founding fathers used when they wrote the declaration. God gives life and entrusted us with the means to protect it. It is the individuality, liberty, and property argument. He points out that these things existed before law.
Section Two: What is Law?
Simple law in itself is the collective organization of the defense of these rights mentioned in section one.
If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly.
But he also points out that the law cannot be used to destroy the same of another person or group of people.
Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Any such action would just not be lawful. Quite simple yes?
Section Three: A Just and Enduring Government
So we move on after establishing what our rights are and how the common defense of these rights in the basis for the law and that the law cannot used to circumvent or destroy these rights. A government organized under these premises would naturally then be a stable, limited, and non oppressive government that would be able to endure because of what it was providing to the people. Then he makes the most profound statement of the presence of the government in regards to our personal liberties and how we apply ourselves in our country.
When successful, we would not have to thank the state for our success. And, conversely, when unsuccessful, we would no more think of blaming the state for our misfortune than would the farmers blame the state because of hail or frost.
So wait, I guess “you didn’t build that” does not apply. huh? who knew right. The government’s job is to simply provide safety, nothing more and nothing less. That protection would allow us the freedom to succeed or fail on our own, no bailouts, no welfare, no safety net, jut a good work ethic and the same opportunity as everyone else. So the state stays out if people’s business and all are allowed to thrive, but when the state gets into the job of helping everyone out we create an increased burden on the responsibilities of the government and then legislative dissent.
Interesting stuff this Bastiat guy is writing in just the first three paragraphs really. He points out succinctly in a few hundred words the point that many morons can never get to. the whole purpose of the government is to enforce the law and the goal of the law is the protection of individual rights: life, liberty, and property. Something to think about for this week.