"The state is the great fiction by which everybody seeks
to live at the expense of everybody else."
by:
Frederic Bastiat
(1801-1850) French economist, statesman, and author. He did most of his writing during the years just before -- and immediately following -- the French Revolution of February 1848.
Source:
"The State", Journal des d├ębats, issue of September 25, 1848
(in Selected Essays on Political Economy) par. 5.20
http://www.econlib.org/library/Bastiat/basEss5
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Reader comments about this quote:
Bastiat had his eyes open and his brain in gear. The 'state' is nothing but a mere invention, conceived by some men to exercise control over others (like what is happening in USA today). PROOF of the uselessness Of the state as we know it today? IF THE US GOVERNMENT WERE TO VANISH OVERNIGHT - THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WOULD STILL BE ALIVE (AND PROBABLY BETTER OFF)THE NEXT DAY.
 -- John-Douglas, Nassau     
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    100% on. Although the lust for raw power also plays a part.
     -- S. Engel, Fredericksburg     
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    Very appropriate and TRUE!
     -- Eugene T. King, New York     
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    Man, this guy really saw what was in store for us. It's a shame too few people heeded the wisdom of folks like him.
     -- Robert Mayer, Pearland, TX     
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    This quote reminds me of an old joke. Two vagrants were standing on a street corner and a cop asked one how he made a living. He pointed to the other guy and said that he borrowed money from him. The cop asked the 2nd guy how he got money and he pointed to the first guy and said, "he pays me back."
     -- jim k, austin     
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    John of Nassau is exactly right.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    Lust for power does play a part. The choice is between dealing with individuals who lust for power is unlawful and punishable, or individuals who lust for power, legalize it and punish any resistance to it.
     -- Bryan Morton, Stuart, FL     
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    I think he is correct but it is not a fiction. Most people given the opportunity will seek to live in a better state or society than in a worse state or society. Why else is it that the illegals and legal aliens wish to come to America. If y'all would prefer to make it on your own without the "state" or "society" why don't y'a go to some dirty little Mexican or African village and make a life for yourself. While y'all bash our government and society the new arrivals are counting their blessings. Here we have "free" libraries, "free" running water in city fountains, free education etc. all at the expense of everybody else.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    The quote is excellent, but even better is the essay from which it is taken! There is a link to it above. Waffler, if you read the essay you would understand that indeed the State is a fiction. Nothing is free, Waffler -- I think it is obvious that you received a 'free' education and 'free' fluoridated water....
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Owning things, being "rich", is an albatross around our necks, but using things that is the way to go.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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     -- RKA, Wasilla, AK      
    Well, Waffler, I am assuming that since you say ownership is an albatross and usage is "the way to go" that you condone using things that don't belong to you. Have you no respect for the property and labors of your fellow man? Or do you just envy those with more and seek to use the government to take from another for your own use? Admit it: you are a communist. You may be able to fool yourself, but you aren't fooling anyone here.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    My family has been here since the Plymouth Settlement. We built this country and we are entitled to all that we have because it is ours. Why would I have to go to some little third world garbage scow just to prove to you that I do not want government to be intrusive and invasive of my personal life. I have the right as an American to speak my mind without being told to leave and go someplace else. That is an un-American position to take and one that I would expect to hear from some low level government shill that is fearful of enlightened public. I think I've got you pegged.
     -- Billy Yank, Boston     
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    By the way Waffler. In your defense, you are not a communist, because there really is nothing wrong with people wanting to live on a commune if they so choose. You are a totalitarian. You want government to rule everything, regulate everything, decide everything. As long as you keep your position as house slave, you want to keep all of those dirty field slaves in line. God forbid they should rise up like men and break the bonds of tyrants. So what are you, dog catcher, one of those rude DMV workers, maybe some dumb cop who likes to taze people, or even a tax collector? Hear what I say. The change is coming. If you cant help out, you had better get out of the way, or you will get swept away with the rest of the tyrants.
     -- Billy Yank, Boston     
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    Billy why don't you say what you believe rather than putting words in others mouth. You just want to argue with yourself. My step-father is a direct descendant of John Balch who arrived in Mass. in 1625. Yes the Plymouth Colong and the Puritans were a highly organized society/government that accomplished a great deal and laid down the framework of government and society that enabled Americans to proceed west and establish successful communities throughout this country. I was not suggesting moving in order to stifle free speech but only to respond the need for some folks to be free of the trappings of "state". Where people are unorgainized and their is no state we have more individual freedom but less services, take your pick is all I said. I love fending for myself in the wilderness and I also like the comforts of society and the "state". Get a grip Billy.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    Waffler you said that we should go to some dirty little Mexican or African village, so be man enough to stand by your words. Again you are doing verbal somersaults, but you say nothing of substance. Your words are designed to confuse and dazzle, not enlighten or inspire. There is no doubt that you are a plant, designed to break the will of the people. No one can be that stubborn and stupid. Yes you have to be a plant. I do have a grip. I know what the American people feel right now. It is you that is out of touch. You are a little lap dog panting away. As long as your master pats you on the head, puts some table scraps in your bowl, you are thrilled. You feel threatened by the feral dogs out there and you want to bring them into line. What if they attacked your master, who will feed you, who will take care of you, who will rub your belly. Better to live one day as a man, then to cower a thousand as a mouse. I choose to be a man, if it cost me my life, then so be it. It is only a shame and a sin that brave men die so that cowards like you inherit the earth, only to breed more cowards.
     -- Billy Yank, Boston     
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    Well said, Billy Yank. You've got Waffler's number down to a tee.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    I am easy to get down to a tee and easy for many to think I make no sense. Because many come on this site with a miserable attitude and are just looking for compnay, "misery loves company". Billy claims he knows the American people and he is willing to dictate for the American people. He is like the Alaskan Palin who when in Pennsylvanina said "We here in Penna. believe this" Who the hell is We Mrs. Palin. In a speech to Alaskans she said what she believed about an issue and followed it up with "I know that you believe that also". What a phony demogogue. Serious conservatives are dropping her and McCain in droves and are embarrased by her. I am embarrased every day by the likes of Logan (America is a Republic not a democracy, although god bless him he is improving) Mike (victimless crimes), and Archer (the IRS is Puerto Rican with no jurisdiction in the 50 states). And now confused and dazzled Billy Yank. I stand exactly by my words Billy Boy, if you don't like government, community, state whereby we have water service, sewers, fountains, public parks, statuary, and all of the trappings of civil and social life then do away with government, community, and state. You will then not have to go to a dusty Mexican or African village you can have it right here. I assume Billy you are now more confused and dazzled than ever you ignorant uneducated scum.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    Waffler Waffler Waffler...Billy Yank was right, you are indeed a totalitarian and an obvious government shill. What you don't seem to get is that it is "you" who are in the wrong country. America is a nation of free and sovereign individuals...not government sycophants. And Bastiat was an absolutely brilliant man, who wrote "The Law". A good read for anyone who wants to know why the Wafflers of the world are completely out to lunch.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Waffler claims to be retired IRS, which explains a lot. He hates freedom, liberty, natural law, justice, inalienable sovereignty and rights and always comes up with some frivolous off topic statement to prove an otherwise mindless totalitarian / socialist dogma. I happen to enjoy and support representative government, community, state whereby we have water service, sewers, fountains, public parks, etc.; which, are in no way a result of an independent 3rd party totalitarian despot (as Waffler would have us believe). I choose not to live at the expense of everybody else. I pay as I go. It is the Waffler worlders that promote compelled compliance, license, victimless crimes, public larceny, the violation of inalienable rights, enslavement of the masses by his version of the statist theocracy, and a myriad of other malefactor etcs., all at the expense of others
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Waffler is a former Federal Reserve collection "agent". Well that certainly explains things. It explains why he has NO allegiance to the USA...he's a paid Globalist Tyrant. I have more regard for things I've scraped off of my boot.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    I enter this discussion a bit late. Truth be told, when I saw the quote I had to see where the players lined up. Living in a pure, tribal state - both meanings - may be the intellectual idea; until some other tribe attacks, which history shows will happen. The feudal system, key root 'feud,' became the answer to the problem and the game has been afoot for ever after. Blame Eve, the snake, or the devil, we lost The Garden of Eden. Until one has had the opportunity and responsibility for 'running' something, it looks easy. It never is. Been there, done that. Be thankful for the many, many good people in gov't who do the tasks with a good heart and all the honesty they can bring. You won't read much about them, but they are the sinews by which we survive as a free people.
     -- J. B. Wulff, Bristol, CT     
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    Waffer, you speak against all America stands for. We will never buy into your crap. Your kind, IS the problem. You misunderstand all that is said to you. You make sense, and we understand you, it is you, who do not understand the ways of free men. Billy Yank, has told you something, and it IS coming. When it does, your kind will tremble and run. While there is time, perhaps, you will rethink your stance.
     -- Kimo, USA     
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    If the " We the People " were truly Free from Oppression as with the original Intent in founding this " One nation under God " there would be No government agency, Fed or local who would willingly Rob their neighbor of HEARTH AND HOME. By the way, for resale by the Banksters, perpetuating SLAVERY TO THE STATE AND BANKS as " little g" gods. Regardless whether or not government workers are honest in intent to carryout the " Legalized Plunder " at the point of their gun. My goodness how far a young centralized gov, infested with communism has come in destroying from the inside out a once Free Republic of Sovereign Individuals and States of free will association.
     -- Ronw13, Yachats OR     
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    Ron13, said very well !
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Read Bastiat 30 years ago. The "Law" is probably the greatest political philosophy book ever.
     -- Hromano1030, Bangkok     
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