Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Who was Frédéric Bastiat?

From Cercle Frédéric Bastiat:

Frédéric Bastiat was born in Bayonne in 1801, and died in Rome in 1850. But his family was from a little town called Mugron, where he spent most of his life, and where he has a statue.

Mugron is located to the North-East of Bayonne, in a French Department called "Les Landes". He spent the better part of his last years in Paris, as the editor of Le Journal des Economistes, and from 1848, as a member of Parliament.

As an economist, gifted with a very clear mind and a devastating sense of humor, he renewed the Economic science of his time by developing it from the standpoint of the consumer, i.e. the people. He was the tireless apostle of freedom of exchange and freedom of choice by individuals, without constraints or subsidies. His works are as fresh and relevant today as they were 150 years ago, and his numerous predictions about the evolution of Institutions and Societies have invariably come true.

As a philosopher, he was the precursor of many present day Libertarians, building normative ethics on the foundations of individual liberty and responsibility.

As a local judge, he was a paragon of efficiency and equity.

As a politician with a great foresight, he was an advocate of minimum government, and fought against the indefinite extension of public expenditure. He criticized colonial expeditions and slavery. He argued for the separation of powers, for preventing MPs from being ministers at the same time, and for limiting the number of civil servants in the Assembly. He was for a greater participation of women in politics.

His major writings are "The Law," "Economic Sophisms," "What Is Seen And What Is Not Seen," "Economic Harmonies". They have been translated into many languages.

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