Bastiat's Conundrum — Reflections From a Murky Pond
Claude-Frédéric Bastiat, a 19th Century economist and political philosopher of the French Liberal School - think proto-libertarian - was more than a little concerned about society turning its back to what is good and embracing what it is evil. When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe. -- Frédéric Bastiat Economic Harmonies (1850 AD) Not, of course that this is new thought or warning. It goes back to at least Biblical times. Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! -- Isaiah 5:20, The Bible (KJV) But, inherent to these very thoughts and proscriptions in the conundrum. Who are the misguided of the public? Who, indeed, have chosen to call evil good, and good evil? When a society - truly, at this point more of a population than a society - cannot even agree upon what words mean, much less what are examples thereof, it becomes almost moot to try to decide this.
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