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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 395 of Liberty Fund’s 2017 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 March 1848 essay “Disastrous Illusions” (“Funestes illusions”):

The service of a public functionary is not one whose price is negotiated or one that people are in a position to accept or refuse. By its very nature, it is imposed. When a nation can do no better than to entrust a service to public coercion, as in the instance of security, national independence or the repression of misdemeanors and crimes, it has to create this authority and be subject to it.

But if a nation puts into the domain of public service what absolutely ought to have remained in that of private services, it is denies itself the ability to negotiate the sacrifice it wishes to make in exchange for these services and deprives itself of the right to refuse them; it reduces the sphere of its freedom.

The number of state functionaries cannot be increased without increasing the number of functions they occupy. That would be too flagrant. The point is that increasing the number of functions increases the number of infringements of freedom.