Bastiat: Selected Essays, Chapter 1, What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen | Library of Economics and Liberty

1.27  “Discharge a hundred thousand men! What are you thinking of? What will become of them? What will they live on? On their earnings? But do you not know that there is unemployment everywhere? That all occupations are oversupplied? Do you wish to throw them on the market to increase the competition and to depress wage rates? Just at the moment when it is difficult to earn a meager living, is it not fortunate that the state is giving bread to a hundred thousand individuals? Consider further that the army consumes wine, clothes, and weapons, that it thus spreads business to the factories and the garrison towns, and that it is nothing less than a godsend to its innumerable suppliers. Do you not tremble at the idea of bringing this immense industrial activity to an end?”

1.28  This speech, we see, concludes in favor of maintaining a hundred thousand soldiers, not because of the nation’s need for the services rendered by the army, but for economic reasons. It is these considerations alone that I propose to refute.

1.29  A hundred thousand men, costing the taxpayers a hundred million francs, live as well and provide as good a living for their suppliers as a hundred million francs will allow: that is what is seen.

1.30  But a hundred million francs, coming from the pockets of the taxpayers, ceases to provide a living for these taxpayers and their suppliers, to the extent of a hundred million francs: that is what is not seen. Calculate, figure, and tell me where there is any profit for the mass of the people.

via Bastiat: Selected Essays, Chapter 1, What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen | Library of Economics and Liberty.

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