"Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state.
They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone."
by:
Frederic Bastiat
(1801-1850) [Claude Frederic Bastiat] 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 Law" by Frederic Bastiat (1850)
http://liberty-tree.ca/research/TheLaw
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Reader comments about this quote:
Again,a morsal of Truth.I believe that those who try to live at the expense of the state are,in many ways, deterring us as a nation from obtainig our true potential and enabling and encouraging"The System" to act as if it were a parasite.Drawing its nourishment from the productive citizen and feeding the non-productive citizen.Encouraging the non-productive citizen to rely totally on "The System".This is not a productive relationship for anyone.
 -- KS., Somewhere,USA.     
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    Exactly. What I ask of government, I'm actually asking of my neighbor!
     -- John, St. Louis Park, MN     
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    This is in fact a welfare state, and socialist!
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
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    From one of the best books on law ever written, absolutely.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours...
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
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    Government is like so many leeches. Leeches have their place in the ecosystem, but if you get too many, they'll bleed you dry.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    Some people might want to live at the expense of others - certainly not everyone. If it were true, absolutely nothing could have ever been accomplished.
     -- Jack, Green, OH     
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    The state does not live at the expense of everyone, rather it lives to serve the common needs for the benefit of all... for some that will be to provide help when they are down and out, for others it will be to find the power in numbers that one can not fulfill... and yes, for some it will be to be called upon to help fund this common good... when will they understand that it is only through the stability of society that they have benefited, that this is nothing more than a part of the cost of doing business... that it takes money to make money... those who would oppose this are the greedy underbelly of society, the war profiteers... the equivalent of the money changers that were thrown out of the holy places.
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
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    It's a relief to read your comments, Reston, instead of the constant cynicism of those who resent every penny they have to pay for the common good. Obviously, there have been enough like you to have produced what good society does provide. I hate to contemplate what it would be like if it were truly every man for himself..
     -- Jack, Green, OH     
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    Jack and Reston forget that the state lives at their expense -- an expense that far exceeds the benefit in return -- the price, freedom and independence.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    The problem with atheism structured in socialism is that the church can not be criticized to harshly and there is no recognition of individual liberty. Jack and A from Reston describe well the beauty (not) of tyrannical slavery, missing all together the tenants of a Representative Republic.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Ah, the very basis of our Republic!!!
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    I think Bastiat's remarks are trash. What the world needs now is pragmatism which is the American miracle not idealistic garbage. In his exanded essay he says "Life, faculties, production - in other words, individuality, liberty, property - this is man." What trash in logic and in literary construction this is. Individuality, liberty, and property just like government, state, and bureaucracy that does not sevrve the needs of others in some pragmatic way will seize to exist. Businesses know this and so do business men. The capitalist fallacy can be discerned from this vignette: a shirt maker and a shoe maker met at the club bar and were complaining about their ware houses full of merchandise that they could not sell but in which they had a lot of built in profit due to the low wages they paid their workers. They were very proud of their "life, faculties, production, and their individuality (at being so smart), their liberty, and their property" but were crying over the fact they could move the stuff. A child over heard them and suggested that if they paid their workers a better wage that maybe the shoe workers could by shirts and the shirt workers could by shoes. Everyone lived happily ever after. "From the mouths of babes."
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    As usual , Waffler and Jack are wrong, and I don't blame Anonymous for remaining anonymous. Come April 15th we have to fill out that form known as 1040 and confess that we have the audacity to actually earn some money. Taxation is not "the cost of doing business", it's legalized theft, nothing more or less. To make matters worse, we have two, maybe even three people running for president who would enjoy stealing even more of your money.
     -- jim k, austin, tx     
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    As but one aspect demonstrating the truthfulness of the quote, my reference to church here was to make transparent certain atheist and others' belief system(s) toward government, it being their church, complete with mandatory tithes and offerings, robed priesthood on the bench, executive clergy with guns, and elected high priests to make church benefitting rules, all to convert parishioners and accomplish that which they may not do as individuals.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    The Government does not "give" any one, anythinhing it did not "steal" from someone else. What has been achieved in the US was the result of free enterprise, unchecked, and not the result of so called "Government Benevolence" But now that the US is truly becoming a socialist welfare state, look for the demise of society's morals, productivity, education and currency (and that's just getting started). Socialism is a disease...not a solution. Bastiat had the basic sense to see this in the 1700's. And anyone defending this socialist system is "rationalizing", Which shows what a good "state" education can do for you. It will provide you with an "Anthill Mentality"
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Read The Law by Bastiat -- it is indeed brilliant. While I do understand the altruistic mind that rationalizes the need for the benevolence of humankind, compassion is best exercised by private citizens and their voluntary associations. A prosperous people is a charitable people -- a people in debt and hungry are desperate and indeed dangerous, that is what a fiat money system will gurantee - soon followed by more statist 'solutions.' When millions are going bankrupt, it is usually due to government/bank abuses (i.e the Great Depression, the crash of the dollar now, recessions, inflations, corrections, etc..). Most 'social' problems are the result of socialized solutions. Trying to institutionalize everything and squeeze a hunter-gatherer into socially-engineered structures is nothing but the 'domestication' of human beings like cattle. It cannot last forever -- the process of liberation is an essence of life.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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     -- warren, olathe      
    Great quotes are always defined by explaining the complex in simple language. This is one of the best, the state has nothing except the ability to take from individuals. Everyone who receives Social Security is spared the indignity of going to a working person and asking for a handout, but that is in fact what government has done on their behalf. Does this make anyone less of a beggar because there is an intermediary? Unless SS becomes a save for your own future system we are all destined to become beggars in our retirement.
     -- Tony, Rockville, Maryland     
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    Anonymous, Reston. The first part of your statement is straight out of the mouth of Karl Marx. The equivalent of the money changers today are the Elite bankers who you owe your life to. They have stolen your life with the chains of perpetual debt and may they rest lightly. Bastiat is "the" man.
     -- Anon     
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    An excellent companion-piece to Bastiat's "The Law" is Albert Nocks "Our Enemy, the State," in which he makes a clear distinction between good government and the State, which is---and always HAS been---the enemy of Liberty. Google will easily turn up several copies that can be read free online, and here's one such URL: http://www.barefootsworld.net/nockoets0.html Hatman
     -- Hatman, Nunya D. Bizniz     
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    This is an excellent book which every politician should be forced to read and apply. Please help to spread Fredrick Bastiat book---The Law
     -- Waymon Meadows, Dundee, Florida     
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    The 1040 form should rightly be called "The Confession Sheet". An interesting book,out of print but available on Amazon, is "The Income Tax, Root of All Evil".
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
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    I had read a few dozen libertarian-esque books, but it was "The Law" by Frederic Bastiat which made the state's actual functioning clear to me. Some believe they have the right to own others, and to take their management fee by force from their slaves. Almost any other way of describing the corporations doing business as "The Peoples' Republic of..." or "The United States of..." is merely a euphemism for the plantations where humans are farmed for their productive/destructive capacity. This is the political history of the world since the Agricultural Revolution.
     -- Matthew, Peoples Republic of California     
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    If only those DC"vers Serving Us Up in government had just a smidgen of the wisdom and intelligence of the great Frederic Bastiat.

    Reston, Waffler and Jack sadly lack one iota of the wisdom or the intelligence of Bastiat and forever live in the world of hopeless cases. The term 'Limited Government Republic' is beyond their ability to absorb and comprehend.
     -- Mary-MI     
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