CARB, ABAG, AB-32, AGENDA 21, BRADY LAW. Frederic Bastiat saw these guys coming almost two hundred years ago and warned us. One of my favorite authors is Frederic Bastiat, the 19th century French economist and proponent of free markets and private property. Though written nearly two centuries ago, Bastiat’s views are as compelling and relevant today as when written. scan of current headlines – whether regarding local, state, federal or world news – affirms the universal truth and power of Bastiat’s ideas. For example, consider this passage from Bastiat’s book The Law, that illustrates the folly of government regulators:
The claims of these organizers of humanity raise another question which I have often asked them and which, so far as I know, they have never answered: If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?
The organizers maintain that society, when left undirected, rushes headlong to its inevitable destruction because the instincts of the people are so perverse. The legislators claim to stop this suicidal course and to give it a saner direction. Apparently, then, the legislators and the organizers have received from Heaven an intelligence and virtue that place them beyond and above mankind; if so, let them show their titles to this superiority.
They would be the shepherds over us, their sheep. Certainly such an arrangement presupposes that they are naturally superior to the rest of us. And certainly we are fully justified in demanding from the legislators and organizers proof of this natural superiority.
After hearing about last Saturday’s One Bay Area regional planning workshop in Concord, and in the wake of the City of Pleasant Hill’s efforts to run certain retailers out of town, Fred’s words resonate as never before.
I’m still waiting for empirical proof of these public officials’ “natural superiority” (cue chirping crickets’ soundtrack).
Many politicians are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story who resolved not to go into the water till he had learned to swim.
~ Thomas Macaulay