Economic Harmonies: Chapter Three Review – The Inexhaustible Nature Of Wants and What Keeps Them In Check

By Scott Albright


The process of how man’s wants are satisfied as described by Bastiat in chapter two of Economic Harmonies may seem a little dry and methodical to some, but chapter three goes deeper into the depths of a mans essence and being on top of elucidating on some causal relationships.

There have always been deep seated fears that automation emerging in the market via innovative capital investments would make people lazy and create many idle hands. Coupled with this fear is the claim that unfettered capitalism and the full unleashing of free market forces would give rise to immorality and a societal degradation, so to speak.

Chapter three highlights that although suffering is inevitable in our world, it also can and often does act in a manner that tends to rid itself of its own causes.

The study of the natural laws of society will reveal that the role of suffering is gradually to destroy its own causes, to restrict itself to narrower and narrower limits, and, finally, to guarantee us, by making us earn and deserve it, a preponderance of the good and the beautiful over the evil. [1]

Part of the reason that people seem to fear that capital investment and wealth creation will eventually lead us to become lazy and idle is that they tend to assume that mans wants and desires are a fixed quantity beyond which people will just consume leisure. They forget that self-interest is the mainspring force that drives humanity and that the well of desires in man is endless.

On the subject of human wants I have an observation to make that is important, even fundamental, for political economy: they are not a fixed, immutable quantity. By nature they are not static, but progressive.

This characteristic is to be noted even in the most material of our wants; it becomes more marked as we advance to those intellectual tastes and yearnings that distinguish man from beast. [2]

Also, there is much to be learned from one of the most poignant statements concerning the problems that arise when people believe that wants are a fixed quantity to be desired:

It is impossible to find a good solution to the problem of the machine, foreign competition, and luxury, as long as wants are considered as an invariable quantity, or their capacity for indefinite multiplication is not taken into account.

But if man’s wants are not fixed quantities, but progressive, capable of growth like the inexhaustible desires on which they constantly feed, we must conclude, granting that a balance between the means and the end is the first law of all harmony, that Nature has placed in man and about him unlimited and constantly increasing means of satisfaction. This is what we shall now examine. [3]

Not everyone desires solely economic and monetary gains as their most valuable ends, as the essence of one’s being often desires to enjoy more nobler goals, such as the continual learning and expanding of knowledge, the cultivation of ones intelligence and sensibilities to become more learned and refined, the charitable giving to their less fortunate brethren, close relationships with family, friends, community and extended ranges of society beyond the individual are high on the lists of many.

But we must not forget that enjoying these said desires of a higher order can only be realized after we can provide for our own basic needs. Continue reading “Economic Harmonies: Chapter Three Review – The Inexhaustible Nature Of Wants and What Keeps Them In Check”

Economic Harmonies: Chapter Two Review – The Sensations That Drive Economic Growth

By Scott Albright


Chapter two delves into the cause and effect of satisfying wants by explaining actions determined by subjective valuations of ends and how their fulfillment comes about.

Man has scarce resources to utilize as means to his ends. It is only natural that he desires to harness the forces of nature to ease his efforts and make them more productive so that he can have both more leisure and time to pursue the satisfactions of ever-changing, newer, more refined wants.

The soul (or, not to become involved in spiritual questions, man) is endowed with the faculty of sense perception. Whether sense perception resides in the body or in the soul, the fact remains that as a passive being he experiences sensations that are painful or pleasurable. As an active being he strives to banish the former and multiply the latter. The result, which affects him again as a passive being, can be called satisfaction. [1]

In light of the chapter title, “Wants, Efforts, Satisfactions”, it is very important to note that the sensations of want and satisfaction are most often in society felt by one individual but the effort is mostly performed (and therefore felt) by others in terms of the satisfactions that we enjoy but do not produce directly, because we rather are most likely a producer of one or a limited number of other goods and/or services that we produce in order to exchange for. With an expanded division of labor and growth in capital accumulation, man is able to satisfy his wants on continually better terms and therefore, fulfill more wants he formerly did not have as new ones emerge. It is only in the state of isolation that man always feels all three of these sensations; wants, efforts, and satisfactions.

Of the three terms that encompass the human condition-sensation, effort, satisfaction-the first and the last are always, and inevitably, merged in the same individual. It is impossible to think of them as separated. We can conceive of a sensation that is not satisfied, a want that is not fulfilled, but never can we conceive of a want felt by one man and its satisfaction experienced by another.

If the same held true of the middle term, effort, man would be a completely solitary creature. The economic phenomenon would occur in its entirety within an isolated individual. There could be a juxtaposition of persons; there could not be a society. There could be a personal economy; there could not be a political economy. [2]

Continue reading “Economic Harmonies: Chapter Two Review – The Sensations That Drive Economic Growth”

Economic Harmonies: Chapter One Review – Hegemony and Spontaneity

By Scott Albright


Today, our political leaders believe that the excesses of self-interest lead to gross inequalities and that liberty must be restricted due to the inherent inequalities resulting from self-interest, unfettered market forces, and the nature of economic progress. These inequality hucksters seem to mostly believe that man’s self-interest is inherently antagonistic with the general interests of society.

The wrongheaded nature of this attempt to facilitate a kind of equality of outcomes, in which man’s self-interest will be restricted so that there is justice or equality, is a belief that man is like clay, to be molded by his impartial benevolent political leaders for the betterment of society.

Excerpts that Bastiat quotes from the Social Contract shows the gross inconsistency in Rousseau’s reasoning.

“We should have gods to give laws to men….. He who dares to institute a society must feel himself capable, so to speak, of changing human nature itself…. of altering man’s essential constitution, so that he may strengthen it. …. The lawgiver is, in every respect, an extraordinary man in the state.”

Bastiat soon follows up with his classic witty rebuttal, “And what, then, is mankind in all this? The mere raw material out of which the machine is constructed.” [1]

Rousseau was double-minded to think that since men are like beasts, they need to be tamed by a superior, selfless and impartial lawgiver while simultaneously believing that these lawgivers were worlds above the sentience, trust and intellectual development of the laymen. Some things never change!

“…We must nonetheless recognize that the social order is composed of elements that are endowed with intelligence, morality, free will, and perfectibility. If you deprive them of liberty, you have nothing left but a crude and sorry piece of machinery. … Yet, for myself, I say: Whoever rejects liberty has no faith in mankind.” [2]

Continue reading “Economic Harmonies: Chapter One Review – Hegemony and Spontaneity”

Some Notes on Rousseau

Got involved in a multi-party internet slap-fight, where the initiatory party was both condescending and rude from the outset.  She assumed superior intellect from the start and continued to be a total “B word” throughout.

However, she often referred to Hobbes and Rousseau as the underpinnings for her arguments that “should be very basic and well known” as if it is just plain ol’ obvious that our betters need to initiate violence, lest there be chaos (anarchy!).

Here are some notes in my quick research about one of her heroes, the French Radical Commie,  Jean Jacques Rousseau:


Locke, you have rights in a state of nature.  You may need protection of those rights.  His argument for governments.

Rousseau is different.  He thinks rights are GRANTED by government.  Humans give up ALL of their rights to the “General Will”.  It is above and beyond all of our aggregate wills.  The community will decide the laws that we will all live by.  The general laws of society.  When we give up our freedom to the general will, we are freer than we were before because we can now do what we want to do.

Does everyone agree on the same thing?

He believes that the legislator can get people to not worry about their individual interests, but can be molded into the general will.  Social engineering writ large.

Mistakes cancel each other out in his mind.

Even if you are outvoted…you were incorrect in desiring something counter to the general will.

“No” means yes.

This is the origin of totalitarianism.

It’s intellectual cover and justification for ANY law.

The lawmaker can change the nature of man.

Freedom comes from being bound to the general will.  Very Orwellian.

Continue reading “Some Notes on Rousseau”

Government Services & Benefits: Partial Theft Is Still Theft Part 2

By Steven Clyde

This is part 2 of a 3 part series on the Social Contract, for part 1 click here, for part 3 click here

One must ask themselves this: What do I GET out of the government in return for what is taken from me? For example, let’s say person “A” in a year’s span calls 9-1-1 twice, drives on roads for an average of 15 minutes a day, and utilizes a government granted student loan: how would we properly assess how much they paid in taxes versus how much they took out in the form of services or benefits?. We can’t, which I’ll explain why.

Let’s start with the student loan example. This is a little different than utilizing an ambulance or driving on a government-funded road, in the sense that in this instance the government is transferring money from others (we can call them “Person’s B through Z”) and giving it to person “A”, rather than the government taking from person “A” to expropriate to (B through Z). You then have to pay back interest on your loans after graduation, and in essence the government has found a way to attempt to profit off their theft, though with everybody drowning in student loan debt the taxpayers pay the current bills while we create a new class of taxpayers in the same instance. This is not the same as a person taking their own capital and investing it with evaluated risk; this amounts to robbers seizing funds to re-invest with no concern for risk. They know that as long as they provide loans, students will flock to colleges under the notion that they need college to be successful, and in turn colleges will charge whatever they want. There is no way to measure the actual costs as they are hoped to be paid off in the future, when factors of our economy have changed along with the price of our money. Continue reading “Government Services & Benefits: Partial Theft Is Still Theft Part 2”

My Social Contract! Part 1

This is part 1 of a 3 part series on the Social Contract, for part 2 click here, for part 3 click here

Social Contract: The Myth

by Steven Clyde

The myth of the social contract1 is one that has been around for hundreds of years.2 Without first understanding how fallacious the idea is, we will never be able to understand why voluntary coordination through private property rights not only is the best way for individuals to assimilate into societies, but that the government forces its citizens to act as partial slaves to the state, demanding that they give up a portion of their income through coercive and sometimes violent means.

To begin, have you ever found yourself cornered in a debate from the notion that you “implicitly” gave consent to be deprived of your property by government because you “stay” in this country and don’t leave? Have you ever found yourself convinced by the plausibility of the (soon to be seen) faulty logic that without government coordination we wouldn’t have things like roads, schools, decent healthcare, help for the poor, etc? Continue reading “My Social Contract! Part 1”