Seen and Unseen

The concept of “the seen and the unseen” is one of the most famous ideas of the French classical liberal Frederic Bastiat. In his essay of “What is Seen and What is Not Seen” Bastiat explains that people only see the immediate effects of something and not the longer run effects. The famous story is told about a broken window and is often called the broken window fallacy.
It is a simple concept yet is so often overlooked, especially in this campaign season. The “stimulus”, the auto bailouts, other bailouts, “investing’ in green energy, all have immediate effects that may indeed be desirable, though often they fail to do even that. The problem is the part that is unseen. The jobs that were lost and will continue to be lost because the bankruptcy process was corrupted, or the money was ill spent, etc. An even worse problem is the damage done to the rule of law when contracts were violated by the government choosing winners and losers in the bailouts. But, the most egregious of the unseen damage, is that done to individual liberty. The more the government does, the more it puts its many tentacles into the lives of the American people, and the less free we become. Regulation and crony capitalism crush our prosperity, government schools snuff out individual thought, and the nanny state infantalizes a dependent populace. Instead of free thinking Americans we are becoming a nation of babies perpetually sucking at the government teat. When the milk runs out, what will we do then?

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