Sunday, July 02, 2006

What Is Seen And What Is Not Seen

C. F. Bastiat, an economic philosopher, wrote articles we all can understand.

What follows is the introduction to one of Bastiat's most quoted pieces What Is Seen And What Is Not Seen.

"In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.

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.

Yet this difference is tremendous; for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the later consequences are disastrous, and vice versa. Whence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, while the good economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil."

This alone should be enough to entice a speculator in search of knowledge to dig deeper.




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