After many years, Frédéric Bastiat remains a hero to libertarians. No mystery there. He made the case for freedom and punctured the arguments for state socialism with clarity and imagination. He spoke to lay readers with great effect. Bastiat loved the market economy, and badly wanted it to blossom in full—in France and everywhere else. When he described the blessings of freedom, his benevolence shined forth. Yet there was one principle that Bastiat failed to grasp. Like his classical forebears Smith and Ricardo, writes Sheldon Richman, Bastiat erroneously believed (at least explicitly) that people trade equal values and that something is wrong when unequal values are exchanged.
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