The Most Important Lesson in Economics

Last week I led the new Cato intern class in a discussion of Frederic Bastiat’s brilliant essay “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen,” a work whose insights inform all of the policy analysis at the Cato Institute. Anyone who hasn’t read that one essay owes it to himself or herself to do so as soon as possible. (The essay can be downloaded in a variety of formats here or purchased as a part of his Selected Essays on Political Economy.)

Anthony de Jasay, one of my very favorite writers on matters economic, applies Bastiat’s insights to some contemporary issues in his column “The Seen and the Unseen: The Costly Mistake of Ignoring Opportunity Cost” on If you’ve not yet made de Jasay’s acquaintance, it’s not too late. His columns are excellent and his books offer insights into political economy that are original, analytically rigorous, and wittily and elegantly expressed. (I blogged a bit about his books and my reviews of them here.)

One Response to “The Most Important Lesson in Economics”

  1. Nacim Bouchtia

    Bastiat’s essay is probably my all time favorite piece of literature. I really wish more people have read it because it’s incredibly insightful and actually really funny. De Jasay is also a great author. His book The State is VERY good.