Life, Liberty, and Property

Thoughts on a Free Market Economy…

“Life, Liberty, and Property”

By Phyllis Hunsinger

July 1, 2019

Claude Frederic Bastiat was a French economist, legislator, and writer in the first part of the nineteenth century who championed private property, free markets, and limited government. His most famous work is The Law, which is the classic blueprint for a free society.

As July 4th is celebrated in 2019, with parades, barbecues, and fireworks, how many citizens actually understand the clarity with which our Founders fashioned the Declaration of Independence? “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Our founding fathers left no doubt as to the proper role of government, when they said, “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Law by no means confines itself to its proper function as Bastiat pointed out.

In The Law, Bastiat said, “Life, faculties, production – in other words, individuality, liberty, property – this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God preceded all human legislation, and are superior to it.” Bastiat further explained, “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because man has made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”

Bastiat recognized that the greatest single threat to liberty is government. He said, “See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.” Bastiat believed the law has been perverted by governments for two main reasons: (1) when they can, many individuals wish to live and prosper at the expense of others; (2) many individuals live and satisfy their wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. Look at government mandates, crony capitalism, out of control illegal immigration, and massive welfare programs for the poor and the rich; these are just a few examples of a government functioning outside its proper role.

“It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder,“ wrote Bastiat. “Legalized plunder” is how economist Walter E. Williams described the acts of an evil government. Mr. Williams went on to say, “If liberty dies in the United States, it is destined to die everywhere. “

Amid the parades and fireworks this July 4th, reflect on life, liberty, and property and how our founding fathers recognized that these truths are self-evident, endowed by our Creator, and government’s only function is to secure these rights. Then think of our government and see how far we have fallen from our founding principles., Phyllis Hunsinger © 2013 All Rights Reserved

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