Thursday, September 18, 2008

Economic Sophisms

"In the middle of the 19th century, Frederic Bastiat, the French popularizer of classical economics, titled one of his most famous books Economic Sophisms. 'Sophism' is Bastiat's synoym for 'systematic error,' and he assings sophisms broad consequences: They 'are especially harmful, because they mislead public opinion in a field in which public opinion is authoritative -- is, indeed, law.' Bastiat attacks dozens of popular protectionist sophisms, for example, but does not bother to criticize any popular free trade sophisms. The reason is not that bad arguments for free trade do not exist, but that -- unlike bad arguments for protection -- virtually none are popular!"

Bryan Caplan, The Myth of the Rational Voter

No comments: