Front Page Titles (by Subject) 7.: The Scramble for Office - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
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7.: The Scramble for Office - Frédéric Bastiat, The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics 
The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics, translated from the French by Jane and Michel Willems, with an introduction by Jacques de Guenin and Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean. Annotations and Glossaries by Jacques de Guenin, Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean, and David M. Hart. Translation editor Dennis O’Keeffe (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2011).
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The Scramble for Office
[vol. 7, p. 232. According to Paillottet,
All the newspapers, without exception, are speaking out against the scramble for office of which the Town Hall19 is given a sad example. Nobody could be more indignant about, or more disgusted by, this frenzied greed than we.
But at the end of the day we have to find the cause of the evil, and it would be puerile to expect the human heart to be other than it has pleased nature to make it.
In a country in which, since time immemorial, the labor of free men has everywhere been demeaned, in which education offers as a model to all youth the mores of Greece and Rome, in which trade and industry are constantly exposed by the press to the scorn of citizens under the label profiteering, industrialism, or individualism, in which success in office alone leads to wealth, prestige, or power, and in which the state does everything and interferes in everything through its innumerable agents, it is natural enough for public office to be avidly sought after.
How can we turn ambition away from this disastrous direction and redirect the activity of the enlightened classes toward productive careers?
Obviously by eliminating a great many public posts, limiting government action, leaving a wider, freer, and more prestigious role to private activities and reducing the salaries for high public office.
What should our attitude be then to those theories, so fashionable currently, which propose the transfer into the world of paid public service, of activities still in the realm of private industry? La Démocratie pacifique wants the state to provide insurance, public transport, and haulage, and also to handle the trading of wheat, etc., etc., etc.
Do these ideas not provide fresh fuel for this disastrous mania which so offends honest citizens?
We do not want to discuss the other disadvantages of these proposals here. Examine one after the other all the industries managed by the state and see if these are not, indeed, the ones through which citizens are the most badly and most expensively served.
Take education, obstinately limited to the study of two languages dead these two thousand years.
See what kind of tobacco is provided to you and at what price.20
Compare in terms of regular supply and proper market price the distribution of printed matter by the public authority in the rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau with that by individual enterprises in the rue de la Jussienne.
However, setting aside these considerations, is it not evident that the scramble for office is and will always be proportional to the enticement to it?
Is it not evident that having industry run by the state is to remove work from honest activity in order to deliver it to lazy and indolent intrigue?
Finally, is it not clear that it will make the disorder which the Town Hall exemplifies, a disarray which saddens the members of the provisional government, permanent and progressive?
[19 ]The Town Hall of Paris was the seat of the temporary government after the “three glorious days” of February 1848.
[20 ]The sale of tobacco products was a state monopoly in France.