Fantastic quote from Bastiat:

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

- Frederic Bastiat, French writer and economist, as quoted by Bill Moyers.

What else is there to add?

Category: Bailouts, Legal, Really, really bad calls

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

34 Responses to “QOTD: Bastiat on Plunder”

  1. theexpertisin says:

    Bill Moyers knows a thing or two about plunder. His scheme for personal income from public/foundation-financed productions speaks for itself. I used to have a narrow definition of plunder. As I ponder the above quote from Bastiat, I realize my parameters have changed over the decades to broadly define plunder as anything one gives to another entity that is not gifted or earned. There are many plunderers out there, public and private. And most of us just go along to get along.


    BR: You are seriously daft

  2. by:

    Frederic Bastiat
    (1801-1850) French economist, statesman, and author. He did most of his writing during the years just before — and immediately following — the French Revolution of February 1848

    “The Law” by Frederic Bastiat (1848)


    Collectivism, Corruption, Crime, Economics, Law, Morals, Power, Society, Tyranny

    if One had, but, one Author (on Political Economy) to choose from..It’d be difficult to a damn sight better than Bastiat.

  3. obsvr-1 says:

    ah ha, the preamble to the plutocracy manifesto …

  4. LizSunValley says:


  5. Pantmaker says:

    Wow…just wow.

  6. algernon says:

    Too bad people don’t read more of Bastiat.

    He anticipated the fiat Fed/Big banksters well. He would no doubt say “Plus ca change, plus c’est le meme chose.”

  7. A says:

    As an addendum, perhaps you should add Mark Twain’s infamous quote regarding the rhyming of history.

  8. SINGER says:

    pretty much sums it up…

  9. Market Madness says:

    Great Bastiat quote! One of the economists I read in college that inspired me to pursue economics as my major. This condition will get worse before it gets better.

  10. RW says:

    “Bill Moyers knows a thing or two about plunder. His scheme for personal income from public/foundation-financed productions speaks for itself.”

    Speaks for itself? Jeez, I must be deaf …anyone else hear what “theexpertisin” says he’s tuning into?

    If y’all do then please document that little plundering thing ‘ol Moyers is doing; you know, the swag he takes in and the lack of benefit to society accrued thereby …

    …might compare that (even to an order of magnitude) to the masters of the universe who socialized loss and privatized profit on such a gargantuan scale that capitalism was nearly destroyed …just so us semi-deaf folk can understand how someone gaining a bit of grant money is, you know, comparable to the destruction of society and stuff.

  11. Dogfish says:

    I read the quote and thought of economics and bankers, CEO’s, corpowhores, etc, but then I read some of the comments on the link Mark posted and realized some people would read that quote and think of Democrats instead. Interesting how different the perspectives can be when viewing such things. Kind of funny, kind of sad.

  12. ThatsNotAll says:

    Bastiat saw the regulatory society for what it was. Politicians conspiring with aristocrats to secure power and justify their position as gatekeepers of the nation’s economy.

    The more one examines these “forward-looking” schools of thought, the more one is convinced that at bottom they rest on nothing but ignorance proclaiming itself infallible and demanding despotic power in the name of this infallibility. — Frédéric Bastiat

  13. Doofus says:

    “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.”

    -Renault, Casablanca

  14. Stan Klein says:

    Unfettered free market = fraud market = plunder place.

    Markets need rules and regulations. Otherwise they are chaotic and predatory.

  15. Dr. Goose says:

    When men of a certain propriety
    By plunder, advance in society,
    They fashion their cause
    By a system of laws
    And morals to cloak it in piety.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  16. “and then they buy their wife two Cadillacs and run for president”

  17. bear_in_mind says:

    Lovely quote by Bastiat! Goes to show the fallacy of “modern” times, doesn’t it? As if we’re all that different or superior to our forefathers. Sadly, no… no we’re not.

    The general chatter about markets, especially “free markets”, makes me think of all the talk around “corporations are people.” People can exist without markets and corporations, right, but what about the other way around?

    No, despite the assertions by Justices Roberts, Alito and Scalia, corporations (and markets) do not exist in nature. They are every bit man-made constructs that deserve neither individual rights nor religious reverence.

    So, why do so many otherwise reasonable people cling with such devotion to structures wholly predicated upon Moses-like behavior by its participants? It’s nothing short of radically irrational thought, and yet, it flourishes as if it were the gospel spoken from on high. It’s enough to make one wonder if Americans have fallen into a collective trance.

  18. Frwip says:

    Well, tonight, aside from a great quote by the long late Bastiat, we got as our first comment the confirmation that anyone whose ID makes any sort of claim as to its bearer’s supposed greatness is a jerk.

    In France, Bastiat’s homeland, they call this kind of spectacular flame-out “franchir le mur du con”.

  19. amboycharlie says:

    The Elmer Fudds of academia used to trot out the Tragedy of the Commons Problem, until they realized it was a myth because the commons were well regulated. But what are free markets if not a Commons? Just as in the Commons Myth when everyone plays to beat the market the market takes a beating. Sometimes within an inch of its life.

  20. }Here’s a great Quote of the Day from Frederic Bastiat via Bill Moyers. h/t The Big Picture: [...]

  21. hammerandtong2001 says:

    And the example is…

    Jon Corzine and the “vaporized” $1.6 Billion at MF Global.


  22. Greg0658 says:

    late to this thread .. really worked* yesterday for a change – dropped me like a log afterwards

    imo expert-he-is’s pov is the conflict of corporate money and public money making Moyers way to present to us

    we have TBP .. I thank you Barry for the opportunity for the greater audience

    if I’m patient zero on ‘isms .. I’m sorry – didn’t mean to harsh your mellows

    I like that quote (now after all this) its hard to get a man to understand when his life depends on not understanding
    (paraphrased – I can’t memorize anything)

    * some would/should say “you call what you do Work – try these boots”

  23. louiswi says:

    Here’s a new QOTD that would also make a great bumper sticker:


  24. Great Caesars Ghost says:

    My Favorites…

    “…Bad things happen when good people do nothing” Unknown

    “…But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security…” Declaration of Independence

    “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton

    “…But as a class they cannot save anything that is worth saving, above and beyond the amount that is made profitable by the increase of consumer buying. It is for the interests of the well to do – to protect them from the results of their own folly – that we should take from them a sufficient amount of their surplus to enable consumers to consume and business to operate at a profit. ” Marriner Eccles

    “…And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. ” Matthew 19:24

  25. forwhomthebelltolls says:

    New QOTD!

    “You are seriously daft”

  26. VRWC says:

    That is a great quote…. and every bit as true of government as it is of Wall Street….

  27. xnycpdx says:

    greg0658, the quote you were looking for is upton sinclair’s:
    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

    see also:

    although the most trenchant quote for me these days is modigliani:
    “I’m getting fat and becoming a respectable citizen… I’m going to have two kids; it’s unbelievable. It’s SICKENING.”

  28. johnnywalker says:


    I guess I’m an Elmer Fudd because I used to teach the Tragedy of the Commons to my biology and environmental science classes. I see it as a metaphor rather than a myth, and, as such, a warning against setting up a “commons” without appropriate regulation. The list of examples of the Tragedy of the Commons is long and distinguished.

  29. Bob A says:

    come ooooooon. how do you expect wall street to make money if they’re not allowed to screw the masses?

  30. formerlawyer says:

    @amboycharlie Says:
    Tell that to the whales, the Atlantic (&Pacific) salmon, the cod and heck even the atmosphere. All tragedies of the commons, only lately being regulated.

  31. bear_in_mind says:

    @Bob A: Well said, sir. Well said, indeed.

  32. cbjohn1 says:

    @Stan Klein,

    We have rules and regulations, unfortunately they are ineffective at best and enablers of the very fraud they are supposed to prevent, at worst. We still need rules and regulations but without a doubt the missing component is real market discipline. And no, market discipline is not the same thing as a few market participants being able to write their own laws as they see fit, which is apparently what we have regardless of who sits in the White House.