But, besides all this, there is something which is not seen. The fifty millions expended by the State cannot be spent, as they otherwise would have been, by the tax-payers. It is necessary to deduct, from all the good attributed to the public expenditure which has been effected, all the harm caused by the prevention of private expense, unless we say that James B. would have done nothing with the crown that he had gained, and of which the tax had deprived him; an absurd assertion, for if he took the trouble to earn it, it was because he expected the satisfaction of using it, He would have repaired the palings in his garden, which he cannot now do, and this is that which is not seen. [… etc] He would have become a member of the Mutual Assistance Society, but now he cannot; this is what is not seen. (Frederic Bastiat, 1850)
Mr. Bastiat does a terrific job in showing how taxes put to the socialist’s ends only serves to diminish freedom but what I want the reader to note the connection he draws here between taxation and ‘mutual assistance.’ It is agreed by all that we should like to help our fellow man. Liberals and socialists believe they can do that better by collective administration of coerced funds than individuals can do through churches, charities, and the like.