"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."
by:
Frederic Bastiat
(1801-1850) French economist, statesman, and author.
Source:
"The Law" by Frederic Bastiat (1848)
http://liberty-tree.ca/research/TheLaw
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Melissa, Aurora      
For the law to step in and enforce compasionate acts by the community for the community is not the plunder of a scrooge, but the enforcement of the community's standards for ethical and compassionate behaviour.
 -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
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    BRAVO!!! to Mr. Bastiat. "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury." - Alexander Tyler (in his 1770 book, Cycle of Democracy)
     -- MK, Houston, TX     
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    The "law" in a Republic cannot do such a thing! Enforced compassion, virtue, morality, religion, etc. - these are things that government CANNOT regulate! You cannot legislate morality! You cannot legislate virtue! You cannot legislate compassion! You cannot legislate love! I cannot force my neighbor to love, serve, or have compassion on me or someone else! How then, in my Republic, can I delegate to my elected servant (government) a "right" or "privilege" to force my neighbor to do these under "standards for ethical and compassionate behaviour" concerning something I have no right in myself?! To do so would be UNETHICAL!! It is tyranny and usurpation!! The United States Republic CANNOT assume a right, privilege, or power that the individual himself cannot delegate to it! If I were to break into my neighbor's house and force him to pay the rent of the poor guy down the street, I'd be locked up!! How can I then delegate to my servant a right that I do not have the ability to enforce myself as an individual?! You cannot do this in a Republic!!! But yet, this has happened! Theft by due-process!
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Everyone ought to take a couple minutes to read 'The Law' by Bastiat. Such simple logic and reason is hard to deny.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    It is strange that most people are so brainwashed by the tiny minority of powerful and rich that they don't realize they have been cheated by the system. When the rich who have benefitted beyond fairness are taxed in incredibly less proportion to the largess they receive, even the poor are so brain controlled they holler "tyranny" and "usurpation." The very fact of 500 to 1000 times the disparity of income is logic enough to realize the inequity of the system. The law benefits the rich at the expense of the poor in ways few can understand because the rich also control the mass media and what passes for history. But Mr. is wrong about morality and justice coming from God. God had nothing to do with it. What little exists comes from the best of humankind.
     -- Dick Trice, Fort Worth     
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    It is strange that most people are blinded by their envy of people who have things and riches for which they have worked. They think that their position in the world is the result of their being cheated by some amorphous, evil rich. They can never admit to themselves where they are in life is a result of their own poor choices, their own stupidity, and their own greed. They choose to spend all in a moment of glory and self-indulgence now, rather than save for a better tomorrow. Self delusion its worst.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    I want to know the specific address of Anonymous in Reston, VA lives, so I can ask his local government to give me his land so I can build a mall on it.
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
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    Bastiat is the man!
     -- Ben, Orem, UT     
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    Oh and I will vote for Joe to take the land from Anonymous too so that way it is brought about by a democratic majority. Justice!
     -- Ben, Orem, UT     
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    A from Reston, how is one scrooge's exploits of plunder different from a community's plunder; except the charge of conspiracy must be added to the multiple? Felonious intent "As applied to crime of larceny, the intent which exists where a person knowingly takes and carries away the personal property of another without any claim or pretense of right with the intent wholly and permanently to deprive the owner of his property. (State vs. Perry, 21 N.C. App. 478, 204 S.E.2d 889.891) Unless the State is a foreign despot and We The People are slaves, the State, as the individual's servant(s), does not own the sovereign's labors, or the fruit thereof. Where or what is the lawful nexus that a multiple has claim of ownership on/to an individual's anything. "The essential elements of a larceny are an actual or constructive taking away of the goods or property of another without the consent and against the will of the owner or possessor and with a felonious intent to convert the property to the use of someone other than the owner" (U.S. vs Waronek, 582, F.2d 1158) AGAIN, for all those who think rape, forced charity, compassion, and ethics are moral. Religion is: "real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men." (Bouviers Law Dictionary) The Constitutional Republic was to be based on The Laws of Nature and Nature's God - not a slave master's theocracy. The theocracy of thieves (carnal man being god and the government his church - proselytizing at the end of a gun, forcing the community's standards for ethical and compassionate larceny).that takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong, benefitting one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime is immoral, unjust, unlawful, unconstitutional and contrary to my religion. The Obamunist recently said that this nation is not a Christian nation, Jewish, or etc. and he was right. It is not a government of law, it is a Nazi style socialist theocracy of thieves and liars.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Oh and I also will vote for Joe to take the land from Anonymous. That should enforce the community's standards for ethical and compassionate behaviour.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    One of the greatest quotes of all time. You can NOT "enforce" morality, without tyranny. And then what kind of morality would you be enforcing anyway?
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Taxation is lagalized theft.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    Right on, Mike ,Norwalk. A reminder to Anonymous and Dick, Fort Worth, don't be late for the party meeting tonight. You know how testy those Komrads get when you're late.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    So shallow. Inheritors of wealth did nothing to get it except to be born. That some can be so shallow as not to see that inherited wealth is simply welfare for the rich or well connected is shamefull. That many people born into poverty will remain in poverty not only here but around the world is a fact. To see them as lazy or ignorant or some how stupid I think is a little bit insensitive. To call them greedy or jealous is insensitivity to the exteme. Societal systems around the world that help to level the playing field and give all human kind a chance at a fulfilling life are praiseworthy. The Native American could not understand the idea of ownership of the land, maybe we need to restore their phiolsophy concerning land ownership.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Five stars to Anonymous from Reston. You put it so succinctly sir. Much better that Bastiat The Jerk.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    What IS the community but a collection of individuals. The destruction of the whole can certainly be accomplished by ignoring the parts; furthermore, there is no such thing as providing for the whole while ignoring the parts. That being said, we must be careful that we're not guilty of the fallacies of division or composition. When all the smoke clears, there is no concrete natural entity or reality of "community"; however, the individual exists independently in nature. You destroy, tax, regulate, and distort the natural foundation of existence for that which is abstract and arbitrary, and you'll have problems.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Logan, very well said in both cases. Waffler, inheritors of wealth got it void of larceny, by a willing gift. I've never heard that non-forced giving is shameful welfare. Does that mean that churches and such organizations as St. Jude's children's hospital are also shallow welfare drones? Are you saying that welfare from larceny is not shallow or shameful? Rich (inherited or otherwise) or poor is not a measure of lazy or ignorant. As to land ownership, no one in the USA owns land (holds titles only). How about if we returned to a system to where alodium would be held in violet.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Mike I think you meant inviolate. I like violet it is sort of like color. Most people want themselves and their progeny to fare well. From the point of view of the receipient it matters not from whence their well fare comes. I agree that it is not the best way for an individual to succeed. Each individual such make it on their own. But those who oppose any handoutl programs of helping people in your town, state, nation or world, people who you don't even know do not oppose handouts to people you know especially ones own kids. So if from the point of the recipient a handout is a handout. It spoils ones good nature to which he was born. Inheritance is welfare for people you care about. The other stuff called welfare that many oppose is simply because they don't care about thpse particular recipients. Some might disagree Logan with your "individual existing independently in nature". concept. We all know of animal life as thriving first due to motherly love, then in packs, herds, schools etcetera. Their are few examples I know of human life existing in solitude. Plato or one of those Greeks said "man is a social and politcal animal". Saul Bellow in his novel "The Dangling Man" wrote concerning the sad situation of death in war, "It seems that on occasion a small segment of the population must be sacrificed for the benefit of the whole. When they are we seldom give them much thought. If it were us rather than them who were killed they would not give us a thought either." These words by him express the interconnectedness of the human family like no other words I know. While being an independent and self-reliant person is commendable none is absolutley independent and self-reliant even in Amazonian or aboriginal stone age villages.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    One of your better reasoned comments, Waffler. It is correct that many philosophers have stipulated that man is indeed a social (as well as a political) creature. However, (as Hegel would most likely interpret this problem) we should realize the thesis, anti-thesis, and synthesis (Dialectic) of everything that has proceeded us. Locke and many philosophers of the Enlightenment wrote on man's social nature, but where did they get that idea? Sure, they saw "truth" through observation, but they are creatures of their time and era (complete with language, philosophies, and beliefs).Their interpretation was dependent on other philosophers that had proceeded them back to Plato. The Greek's notion of the Polis -- and the individual's relationship to the Polis -- would seem quite out of the ordinary to us today; in fact, most people would sound various calls of "Socialism" or "Fascism" if we instituted even a half of what the Greek's tried to institute, regardless of their "Democratic" ways. Their Socio-cultural norms were quite arrayed and different than we have today. How the Greek Polis came to be and operate within their society must be considered when one reads any of the Greek philosophers. This is a good rule when reading history as well: try to divorce your own personally acquired socio-cultural views when looking back through history, and always try to look at the socio-cultural norms of the philosophers within their own sphere, time, and space reference. You can also safely assume socio-cultural traditions are at the heart of such statements of man's "natural" state of being. My personal belief is that man is, in fact, a societal, political, and cultural being; however, I cannot overlook that while man has evolved (or was inherently created there-such) to be a social creature that this validates atrocities against the individual in the name of the collective. I have yet to find a societal problem that could not be answered while keeping in tact the rights, powers, and de jure responsibility of the individual whereupon society is built; the masses do not need to legislate the individual into compliance. While there are inherent difficulties present in the strict and narrow ruling of life, liberty, and property, the benefits, when practiced, have far outweighed the costs and/or problems associated with such a society. Preemptive legislation -- even in providing for the poor and needy of society -- is a poor band-aid for a ruptured artery.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Amd what is the socio-political baggage if you will that informs your various opinions Logan? If all of those other guys had baggage and thus I assume you think we all have baggage. How about you are you the only one who is free of baggage? Even some one as apparently an individualist and of a creative mind as Edison for example had someone to build his house, wash his clothes and cook his eggs. A silly example maybe but proves my point that none of us are as individualist as we think we are. In fact the brillance, if you may accept that term briefly, of American society and industry has been the division of labor and the invention or engineering of interchangeable parts for rifles and machinery for instance, enabling massive cost reductions in the production of everything. This industrial revoulution is what has brought prosperity to the masses. It is a community based prosperity. Return us to so called rugged ndividualism but be prepared to give up vlrtually all of the things we have today. Now I love pack backing, canoeing and living off of the land as a rugged individual and then coming in and getting in the spa and being panpered in luxury by the community so to speak or at least the hospitality industry. Does this make me a socialist by enjoying the fruits or benefits of society?
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    We are all tainted by the "baggage" that you speak of, sure; that's the point. Our language, and cultural, religious, and societal upbringing shape our minds, questions, and answers. The question here is not "what brings more prosperity?", but "what is natural?" Sure, Edison could have had a maid, cook, and butler in order to free his time to invent the light-bulb. This does not negate the fact nor prove it. It is a separate issue. Between "the collective" and "the individual", there is only one that characterizes a natural state. "The collective" does not breath, it does not eat, it does not thirst; nor, without thought, does it even exist. A rock does not think, but it exists; a tree does not have a perceived consciousness, but it grows. These things are natural. Society evolved out of thought. That isn't to say that society is not beneficial, nor that enjoying the blessings of society makes one a socialist. To be a Socialist you would have to believe that "the collective" is greater than the individual. Can the creation be greater than the creator? Can the idea be greater than the thinker? There are a thousand arguments, but, like I said, when the smoke clears, you are still left with an abstract concept of "society" (a non-living entity that is created and exists in thought) and the individual (a living, breathing, thinking thing). And, again, as I said before, there is yet to be a societal problem that has ever been presented wherein it could not be solved while keeping in tact the freedoms of the individual. If our society truly were to enforce the laws that strictly dealt with merely the actual infringement of life, liberty, and property, there would be many social ills that we would never have been created. This isn't to say that such a system is void of problems, but at least in this system the rights, freedoms, and liberties of the people are vouchsafe to work and grow. Sadly, today, we are experiencing a mix of Socialism and Corporatism; such collusion is at the heart of our basic financial problems, and the cause of such great inequality among our people.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    There is a certain equilibrium that must prevail for a society to achieve long term stability. Bastiat is a shallow simple minded gentleman whose vision was very limited, His little box of logical toys made it possible for him to completely ignore the consequences of his philosophy. Let us go back to nature. If the deer become so numberous that they eat all the food supply and begin dying of starvation, it is past time to cull the herd. If wolved become so numberous that the survial of deer are at risk, some wolves must be eliminated. If the wealthy are so greedy and so devoid of social conscience that they are driving the standard of living down for the majority of the population, it is time to redidtribute the wealth. This can be done peacefully by taxation or it can be allowed to continue until it results in violent revolution.
     -- Dan G, Owings Mills, Md.     
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    If I steal your money and buy a BMW and someone else steals your money and gives it to the poor orphan down the street, which of these two events are theft? For Reston, Dick and Waffler, they are BOTH theft. Give me a regular good old crook any day over a Washington politician. At least when the crook steals my money he doesn't tell me it's for my own good.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
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    Dan G. Does the G stand for "god' complex. Your expressed dogma of the socialist's statist theocracy infesting this land is precisely that which is destroying prosperity in the once land of the free and home of the brave. Bastiat's box of logic was based on absolute laws (science, math, fiscal absolutes, etc.) which consequences bring about prosperity and justice. Going back to nature or 'the law of nature and of nature's God' means there are laws in place (naturally) to cull the herd. It is the social conscience of the god complex socialists, in their applied statist theocracy (being diametrically opposed to natural law - of that which is and beyond man's ability to change) that is driving the standard of living down for the majority of the population. Dan, please give an example or 2 of the social conscience deprived (wealthy and greedy) that are driving the standard of living down AND the "mechanism" by which 'they' are doing it (please be a little specific on the how).
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Too bad the subjects in the USSA are incapable of comprehending simple logic...
     -- Matthew, People's Republic of California     
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    Dan you're completely out to lunch....you're animal numbers analysis is neither sensible coherent nor pertinent. "The Wealthy" are the problem? Hardly! The Banking Elite, Corporate Elite and OUR OWN GOVERNMENT working in concert to control everything we do....now "there's" your problem. Surely you're not suggesting that a guy who made 10 million from scratch with his abilities tenacity and willingness to take risks should be penalized for his efforts are you? I mean after all he's wealthy right? Go back to the drawing board....you're way out to lunch.
     -- J. Carlton, Calgary     
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    What Dan refers to as nature is nothing but human control over nature. The Laws of Nature are not under the control of humans -- but that does not stop some humans from trying. Nature will always find a balance between predators and prey -- especially if human influence is removed. But when our society is split into predators and prey with the 'Law' on the side of the predators instead of the prey, it is the SYSTEM that enslaves -- you can try and get rid of the predators, but as long as the system remains in place, new beasts will take the places of the old. The current economic and banking system sets the hierarchy of the plunderers and the plundered. Without voiding the law(s) that hold this process in place, the plundering will continue, sometimes by the left and other times from the right. Statism always assumes that it knows how many deer and wolves should live -- and the exact same thing is done with the human populace. This is the result of nationalist socialist democracy -- Hitler was stopped by the US military, but who can save America from its own goosetepping?
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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