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Bastiatian Wisdom

Cafe patron David Descôteaux has this letter published on Saturday in Montreal’s The Gazette:

Looking for help from Bombardier


Published: Saturday, July 26

I have a project: to publish a book. I have talent and I’m certain it will be a success. I ask each of Bombardier’s 70,000 employees to lend me $25. I will repay the entire amount ($1.7 million) in 10 years. Of course, it will be a zero-interest loan. And I will pay you back only if I sell my books. If I sell nothing, you get nothing.

You refuse? But my project will create economic wealth. The publisher will earn a profit, I’ll buy writing software, hire a research staff, buy paper, eat at restaurants near my house, hire a contractor to build me a decent office. Add the income tax of all these workers to the taxes generated by the sale of the books, and the government will make a fortune.

Besides, our book industry must be competitive. I heard that a French author, who writes on the same subject as me, receives subsidies from his government. It would be unjust and suicidal for our industry not to subsidize me, too.

You still refuse? You prefer to put your $25 in a safe investment, earning an eight-per-cent compounded annual return that will add up to $54 in 10 years, instead of the uncertain $25 I’m offering you? You say it’s more important for you to keep this money for your daughter’s college tuition than to use it to make planes? I don’t get it.

But it doesn’t matter what you think. You have no choice. My good friend the politician will make you lend me the money. If you refuse, he’ll send you to jail. He thinks it’s a good project. After all, who are you to know what to do with your money?

David Descôteaux
Le Gardeur

(A French version is here.)

Bastiat would be impressed!


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