Frederic Bastiat was a French economist, born on June 29, 1801 and lived till 1850 (49 years of age) who was a strong believer in a capitalist system, and profoundly shaped and created the arguments and theory we use today to justify a free market economy. He also invented the concept of opportunity cost and the ‘negative railroad’ metaphor used to argue against initiating tolls on foreign goods to level the playing field for domestic goods and services.
Bastiat’s father was a wholesale merchant, but died by the time he was 9 and was raised by his grandparents on a farm for the rest of his youth. At age 17 he worked at his uncles counting house for 6 years, before inheriting his grandfather’s farm and becoming a farmer.
Bastiat’s education was relatively decent at the time, involving languages, literature and music. He began to study political economy at nineteen. Becoming locally politically active, consequently he was appointed to be a judge de paix and a member of the general council in 1831 and 1832 respectively. He reached the spotlight in 1844 with his publication of "The Influence of French and English Tariffs on the Future of the Two Peoples", which was the start of many more publications on arguments for minimal government intervention, opportunity cost and many economic concepts that strengthened how we perceive the economy with these concepts today.
Development on the arguments for free trade and respect to property rights:
Bastiat firmly believed that a market could run independent of government intervention. The basic underlying axiom that he uses is that there is nothing inherent to the free-market system that would ensure its demise – “nothing in the nature of the free market that would make its well ordered operation impossible from the start.”
Also asserted is that the free-market does not inherently run against any member of society’s interests (obviously excluding those who...