… is from page 7 of Liberty Fund’s newly published, expanded English-language edition, brilliantly edited by David Hart, of Frédéric Bastiat’s indispensable work Economic Sophisms and “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen”; specifically, it’s from Bastiat’s April 1845 essay “Abundance and Scarcity” (“Abondance, disette”):
What is better for mankind and society, abundance or scarcity?
What, people will exclaim, is that a question to ask? Has it ever been stated or is it possible to assert that scarcity is the basis of man’s well-being?
Yes, that has been claimed; yes, it has been asserted. It is asserted every day, and I have no fear in saying that the theory of scarcity is by far the more popular. It is the subject of conversation in the journals, books, and on the rostrum, and although this may appear extraordinary it is clear that political economy will have fulfilled its task and its practical mission when it has popularized and made irrefutable this very simple proposition: “Mankind’s wealth lies in the abundance of things.”
DBx: After the Author’s Introduction, these are the opening words of Bastiat’s Sophisms – a collection of essays that, in my opinion, is history’s single greatest collection of economic myth-busting.
Bastiat was born 216 years ago today in Bayonne, France. Happy Birthday, Monsieur Bastiat! Humankind still misses you.