Frederic Bastiat Quotations

Frederic Bastiat

If you wish to prosper, let your customer prosper.

It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.

Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.

Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain -- and since labor is pain in itself -- it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.

When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor.

It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.

People are beginning to realize that the apparatus of government is costly. But what they do not know is that the burden falls inevitably on them.

The plans differ; the planners are all alike.

The state is the great fiction by which everybody tries to live at the expense of everybody else.

We cannot but be astonished at the ease with which men resign themselves to ignorance about what is most important for them to know; and we may be certain that they are determined to remain invincibly ignorant if they once come to consider it as axiomatic that there are no absolute principles.

When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.