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Economic Sophisms Paperback – July 31, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English
Introduction: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Frédéric Bastiat (1801—1850) was a French economist, statesman, and author. He was the leader of the free-trade movement in France from its inception in 1840 until his untimely death in 1850. The first 45 years of his life were spent in preparation for five tremendously productive years writing in favor of freedom. Bastiat was the founder of the weekly newspaper Le Libre Échange, a contributor to numerous periodicals, and the author of sundry pamphlets and speeches dealing with the pressing issues of his day. Most of his writing was done in the years directly before and after the Revolution of 1848—a time when France was rapidly embracing socialism. As a deputy in the Legislative Assembly, Bastiat fought valiantly for the private property order, but unfortunately the majority of his colleagues chose to ignore him. Frédéric Bastiat remains one of the great champions of freedom whose writings retain their relevance. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 398 pages
  • Publisher: Greenbie Press (July 31, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1445507641
  • ISBN-13: 978-1445507644
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,791,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By rcassidy@earthlink.net (Richard Cassidy) on March 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a book that I first read about fifteen years ago, and the wonderful stories provide vivid examples for evaluating, or countering, "new" economic ideas with common sense historical, or allegorical, counterparts.
Protectionists, beware - this book will change you forever.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Brown on August 2, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bastiat does some gentle and not so gentle poking fun at the Trade Luddites of his era. His defense of free trade is no less relevant today. In fact, with the nonsense we are hearing about trade from political and activist quarters - it is probably even more important today.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sutirtha Bagchi on July 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
Frederic Bastiat was not an economic theorist in the sense that he did not make any original contribution to economic theory. His claim to fame rests on the success he achieved as a pamphleteer, an exposer of economic fallacies and as one of the foremost champions of free trade on the European continent. That in itself is an achievement that is worth the admiration of anybody who is a supporter of free trade. For even though, the defects of mercantilism and the advantages of international trade, ala comparative advantage, had been established by the doyens of economic theory such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo, protectionism was still reigning supreme in Bastiat's own country, France during the nineteenth century. And that is precisely what he has tried to expose in his book "Economic Sophisms."

Unlike Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose" or "Capitalism and Freedom" or Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson" which deal with a large variety of applications, Bastiat concerns himself solely with trying to combat the menace of protectionism through a series of arguments that are both witty and satirical. Occasionally he also shows how a conversation between two parties having differing opinions on protectionism might evolve. For example, in one of his chapters, he shows how a tax collector might justify the exorbitant collection of taxes to a vineyardist who moans the loss of his wine as taxes whereas in another chapter, he conducts a thought experiment as to how three different merchants might conspire amongst themselves to pass legislation advantaging each one of them in their respective industries.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Samuel J. Sharp on February 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is 150 years old, and yet many people do not understand its lessons even though it is easy and fun to read. It is fitting that my 1964 FEE edition of this book has an introduction by Henry Hazlitt. Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson" is more analytical and less humorous than "Economic Sophisms" but the two are classics in introductory economics.

Bastiat's starting point is that desirable economic decisions come from viewing voluntary exchange through the consumer's eyes rather than through the producer's. For example, the "negative railway" highlights the fallacy of adding barriers to productivity in order to increase the costs of transportation. By breaking the tracks from France to Spain, the City of Orleans and its hotels, boatmen, and porters benefit since goods need to unloaded and moved to a new train and passengers are made to disembark. This looks good for producers but terrible for consumers. Especially since following this logic would mean that every city along the tracks should also tear down the rails!

The genius of this book is that Bastiat does not need lengthy discussions of externalities and production frontiers to get his point across. Through the simple illustrations, the reader learns these concepts anyway even without being formally introduced to them.
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