Yesterday was also the 215th anniversary of the birth of the great French classical liberal economist Frédéric Bastiat (liberal in the good old-fashioned sense - that is, what today we would call libertarian.
Bastiat was one of the first economic theorists in the libertarian vein, who warned of the evils of big government and over-regulation. His definition of "legal plunder" - aka crony capitalism - is a classic example.
Legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways. Thus we have an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on. All these plans as a whole—with their common aim of legal plunder—constitute socialism.Here's a few more Bastiat quotes.
But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime. (emphasis added)
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”Sound familiar? Too bad nobody reads the works of dead white males anymore.
“Everyone wants to live at the expense of the State. They forget that the State lives at the expense of everyone.”
Here's two more that are particularly relevant as we near Independence Day.