Bastiat Foretold of Ron Paul's Struggle

19th Century French taxpayer advocate Frédéric Bastiat seems to have foretold Ron Paul’s struggles in his 1846 public letter “To the Electors of the district of Saint-Sever” (trans. by Diana Dupuy)

Between those men who fight over ministerial portfolios, however bitter the struggle, there is always a tacit agreement, under which the vast edifice of government must be left intact. “Overthrow me if you can,” says the minister, “I will overthrow you in your turn; only, let us take care that the stake remains on the table, in the shape of a budget of fifteen hundred million francs”. But if one day a member of parliament, speaking in the name of taxpayers and as a taxpayer himself, rises from his seat in the House to say to present or prospective ministers: “Gentlemen, fight among yourselves over power, all I seek to do is restrain it; wrangle over how to manipulate the budget, all I wish to do is reduce it”; Ah! be sure that those raging fighters, apparently so bitterly opposed, will very soon pull together to stifle the voice of that faithful representative. They will call him a utopian, a theoretician, a dangerous reformer, a man with a fixed idea, of no practical value; they will heap scorn upon him; they will turn the venal press against him. But if taxpayers let him down, sooner or later they will find out that they have let themselves down.


Both Democrats and Republicans work within a paradigm of big government, and it is for this reason that the establishment of both parties have demonstrated a strong aversion to Ron Paul. In his 2011 book, Liberty Defined, Dr. Paul highlights the tacit exchange agreement in Washington of welfare for warfare, as Republicans get more warfare in exchange for agreeing to the Democtrats’ demands for more welfare.

Ron Paul has challenged the out-of-control “defense” spending elephant in the room along with its overarching foreign policy. To illustrate just how out of control that spending has become, consider that Ronald Reagan’s defense budget, adjusted for inflation, was $450 billion—and this was at the height of the Cold War. Today, defense spending weighs in at $1.2 trillion and is still growing. Many posing as “Reagan Republicans” reject Dr. Paul’s platform precisely because he wants to cut the Department of Defense (DoD) budget and bring troops home and out of unnecessary danger. Indeed, the establishment GOP seems to have sold out to the war profiteer vultures that have descended around Washington, and in this way Republicans grow government.

the politicized “venal press” took rapidly to attacking the noted libertarian standard-bearer during his 2008 and 2012 presidential bids


Similarly, the Democrats have populated their own “edifice of government” in the domestic realm, and have led the charge over the years to create countless federal bureaus, wasteful projects, bailouts, and endless control mechanisms.

Both parties implicitly support the present banking system sitting atop the central bank, the Federal Reserve, or simply, the Fed, which was “granted” control over the money supply by the treasonous 63rd Congress, and which arrangement functions to effect a sort of socialism for banks, as former Congressman Paul has rightly pointed out.

Indeed, the politicized “venal press” took rapidly to attacking the noted libertarian standard-bearer during his 2008 and 2012 presidential bids. CNN exhibited a virulent hatred for him, with its anchormen on air telling cameramen to avoid filming him, even as the network attempted to slander him with the newsletters nonsense 24/7. As it turns out, though, the controversial articles were written by one James Powell, and not Dr. Paul. FOX News was up to its dirty tricks against Paul, too despite having in its employ at the time several pundits who shared his limited-government ways of thinking, including John Stossel and Judge Andrew Napolitano.

Bastiat was able to predict the struggles of a candidate like Ron Paul because he was one such candidate, himself. One might even say that Bastiat was the Ron Paul of his day, although he wasn’t nearly so successful politically (there was no Internet in Bastiat’s day that could bypass the venal press).

Nevertheless, Bastiat expressed primarily the same concerns. He wanted the government out of education, a stance echoing that of former Congressman Paul and his calls to eliminate the truly useless federal Department of Education, which exists only to promulgate top-down educational agendas on American children. The French political economist viewed France’s then-colonial involvement in Algeria with the same wary eye with which Dr. Paul views the United States’ present foreign policy of never-ending war and occupation. Both men opposed excessive taxation, each believing in a libertarian rationale against government wealth redistribution, and each espousing a vision of a small, efficient government that results in maximum liberty for citizens.

Not surprisingly, when asked which one book he would have people read, Paul quickly mentioned Bastiat’s The Law, a scathing critique of socialism from an individualist point of view. Ron Paul’s greatest concern of the renowned French philosopher was that he was not so focused on monetary policy—the primary impetus for Paul’s own entrance into politics. The three-time presidential contender believes, along with others of the so-called Austrian School of economics, that the Federal Reserve—as a central bank—is an economic detriment to America, and it is this belief that seems to be the essence of the man. To be fair, the Austrian School of economics wasn’t developed until well after Bastiat’s time.

Finally, both men espouse a benevolent view of Christianity. Bastiat reportedly made a deathbed conversion to the faith, and vowed to write about liberty and Christianity if he were to live. So Paul also, when forced to vote on the issue of marriage, has stood on the side of traditional Christian marriage by voting for the Defense of Marriage Act, or, DOMA. And the so-called “Good Doctor” consistently opposed abortion while serving in Congress, he himself having delivered over 4,000 babies during his medical career as an Ob/Gyn.

Bastiat experienced an untimely death at the age of 49, and his career in politics was never able to advance past the local level. His writings faded into obscurity and would only later be revived in the 20th century. In contrast, Dr. Paul has had immense success in politics and is at the forefront of a growing movement, known as the r3VOLution, which will likely not fade away. If current trends continue, although Ron Paul did not gain the White House in 2012, it seems that a man of his mindset one day will.

  • Joseph George
  • Joseph is a King’s College grad whose regular blog posts may be found at

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