As students for liberty, we are well acquainted with economic fallacies. For as long as the debate over liberty has been waged, our opponents 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.
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. To defeat the economic fallacies once again, Students For Liberty is partnering with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation to introduce The Bastiat Project. The Bastiat Project has two aspects, a book for mass distribution on college campuses and an essay contest for all current students.
“There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen”.
SFL and Atlas 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. In the fall of 2010 we printed 30,000 of these books and gave them to pro-liberty student groups for mass distribution on college campuses.
Want to read Bastiat from your computer? Then click here to download The Economics of Freedom PDF.
The Bastiat’s Legacy Essay Contest
The second part of the project was an essay contest open to any current student. Submissions were reviewed by a panel of liberty movement leaders from the academic and public policy fields. The topic of the contest was: “Relate the central theme in one of the essays in The Economics of Freedom to a current public policy issue.”
Kelly Tian – University of Chicago
Evan Soltas – Phillips Exeter Academy
George Edwards – Indiana University Kokomo
Stephan Palubinski – American University
Theordore Phalan – George Mason University
Jasmine Whiting – American University
Ian Hosking – George Mason University
Meg Patrick – George Mason University
Michael Booher – East Tennessee State University
Matthew McKillip – Georgetown University
If you have any questions about either the Bastiat Book Project or the Bastiat’s Legacy Essay Contest please email Clark Ruper at firstname.lastname@example.org.