The Economics of Freedom: What Your Professors Won't Tell You
By Tom G. Palmer
Executive Vice President for International Programs
For as long as the debate over liberty has been waged, opponents of freedom have used unsound arguments to try to justify greater government involvement in our economic affairs.
We encounter these fallacies expressed by students, professors, administrators, and many others along the way. Some claim that acts of destruction can result in economic growth. Others assert that professional licensing is good for consumers. Still more argue that restrictions on trade lead to a higher standard of living. These dangerous beliefs are not limited to the academic realm. Today more than ever public policy is dictated by flawed economic reasoning. Stimulus packages, cash for clunkers, trade quotas, tariffs, regulations, and licensing requirements are all in vogue amongst today’s politicians and policy makers.
Students For Liberty and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation have published a new book, The Economics of Freedom: What Your Professors Won’t Tell You. It features a feature a collection of Bastiat’s best essays including such classics as “What is Seen and What is Not Seen” and “A Petition”, along with contemporary essays by Nobel Laureate F.A. Hayek and Atlas Foundation Vice President Tom G. Palmer.
Our generation is not the first to be confronted by these erroneous arguments. In fact, they have already been confronted and proved fallacious by Frederick Bastiat. A 19th century French political economist, Bastiat dedicated his life to proving that government by its nature possesses neither the moral authority to intervene in our economic freedom nor the practical ability to create prosperity through intervention. He systematically debunked his opponents’ claims and observed that economic intervention is most commonly proposed by one group in society trying to gain for themselves at the expense of everyone else. Bastiat’s analysis is as relevant now as it was when he first penned the famous critiques.