Review by Eric Rowell
Reading Bastiat was my "red pill" moment. I wasn't introduced to him in K-12, or in my macro econ class at NCSU, or in law school; it was only while listening to the great Dr. Walter Williams on a podcast while performing menial legal work around a decade ago that I learned for the first time about one of the most important political economists of the 19th Century. Bastiat changes the way a person thinks. After reading Bastiat you won't be able to read a news story or listen to a politician speak without seeing how the law is being perverted to serve injustice in one way or another.
Whether it's a story about government giving away money to nonprofits (forced charity), or about government giving business incentives (opportunity costs), or about any number of stories calling for the government to "do something" by spending other people's money (legal plunder); his clear, concise, and always entertaining style of writing demonstrates the fallacies inherent in all of these myths used by government to justify itself.
The Law is arguably Bastiat's most important work. Written just a few months before his death in 1850, it is a slim volume and can be read over a weekend - or even listened to in about 2 hours. It explores the role and purpose of law in society, and argues that law should protect individual rights and property, not be used to oppress and plunder. I don't have the space here to go into his arguments in depth, but I cannot encourage Libertarian readers of this newsletter strongly enough to familiarize yourself with Bastiat and The Law.