Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bastiat Reference in Chicago Tribune

"[In Chicago] the 5 percent sales tax forgiveness on back-to-school purchases last month, as study after study confirms, only shifts spending from other time frames with no net gain in sales. Ditto for last year's dollop — cash for clunkers — and this year's homebuyer tax credit.

In each of these examples, a politician or legislative body was either seeking to do good — reduce energy consumption, make something more affordable or put more money in workers' pockets — or was perhaps duped by, or just pandering to, a special-interest group or constituency.

As 19th century French economist Frederic Bastiat put it, "There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: The bad economist confines himself to the 'visible' effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be 'foreseen.'

The same bad vs. good demarcation holds for political candidates, city halls, lawmakers and public agencies."

Allen R. Sanderson of the University of Chicago, Chicago Tribune

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