Justice, Law, and Prosperity
Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 8, 2013
Frederic Bastiat’s The Law is, in my opinion, the shortest, most concise, description of the damage done by government when in turns from its delegated role of ensuring justice into the enforcer of injustice. Bastiat wrote this gem just months before he passed away and is the culmination of decades of practical, theoretical, and classical experiences. In fact, without a firm understanding of principles discussed in The Law, no politician is capable of performing his delegated role. LIFE Leadership continues to separate truth from error in the quest for justice for all.
I have attached just one section of Bastiat’s work along with an example of injustice and government from American history. Notice how he pinpointed the two areas of injustice back in 1850 that would eventually lead to America’s Civil War. Injustice is always punished in the morally-ordered world God created. Indeed, Bastiat played the role of prophet because he understood the underlying principles and knew the God who had created the world.
Frederic Bastiat: The Law – As long as it is admitted that the law may be diverted from its true purpose — that it may violate property instead of protecting it — then everyone will want to participate in making the law, either to protect himself against plunder or to use it for plunder. Political questions will always be prejudicial, dominant, and all-absorbing. There will be fighting at the door of the Legislative Palace, and the struggle within will be no less furious. To know this, it is hardly necessary to examine what transpires in the French and English legislatures; merely to understand the issue is to know the answer. Is there any need to offer proof that this odious perversion of the law is a perpetual source of hatred and discord; that it tends to destroy society itself? If such proof is needed, look at the United States [in 1850]. There is no country in the world where the law is kept more within its proper domain: the protection of every person’s liberty and property. As a consequence of this, there appears to be no country in the world where the social order rests on a firmer foundation. But even in the United States, there are two issues — and only two — that have always endangered the public peace. What are these two issues? They are slavery and tariffs. These are the only two issues where, contrary to the general spirit of the republic of the United States, law has assumed the character of a plunderer. Slavery is a violation, by law, of liberty. The protective tariff is a violation, by law, of property. It is a most remarkable fact that this double legal crime — a sorrowful inheritance from the Old World — should be the only issue which can, and perhaps will, lead to the ruin of the Union. It is indeed impossible to imagine, at the very heart of a society, a more astounding fact than this: The law has come to be an instrument of injustice. And if this fact brings terrible consequences to the United States — where the proper purpose of the law has been perverted only in the instances of slavery and tariffs — what must be the consequences in Europe, where the perversion of the law is a principle; a system?
A state enforced monopoly, in other words, is the most effective because it uses the “monopoly of force” to ensure unjust outcomes, activating the Five Laws of Decline (FLD) in its destructive course. Indeed, anytime the state involves itself in the economy, liberty suffers through the the state’s hammer replacing society’s persuasion. For example, President Andrew Jackson, a leader and true student of human nature, dealt with injustice within government when he closed the Second National Bank. He intuitively comprehended the plunderous possibilities of an unchecked FLD and struggled to end the money monopoly’s use of government force as an aid in systematic exploitation. Courageously, his 1832 Bank Veto declared the danger when government unjustly provides monopolies to the few at the expense of the many:
It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society–the farmers, mechanics, and laborers–who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles.
Jackson, in his own words, describes the same phenomena as the author does in the preceding chapters, mainly, that government, when confined to internal and external defense, is a blessing to society. Nevertheless, when it transgresses these boundaries and is used by exploiters to reap where they haven’t sown, the Five Laws of Decline (FLD) are engaged and society declines.