He expanded upon the free-market argument set forth by Adam Smith in In , the French government levied protective tariffs on scores of items, from sewing needles to locomotives. The intent was to protect French industries from companies outside France that could produce the goods more cheaply. Throughout the ages, protective tariffs have been created for this purpose and, historically, they work only briefly, if at all.

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In many ways, it expanded on the free market argument against mercantilism set forth by Adam Smith , but Bastiat targeted government tariffs that were levied to protect domestic industries from competition. In Bastiat's "Petition," all the people involved in the French lighting industry, including "the manufacturers of candles, tapers, lanterns, sticks, street lamps, snuffers, and extinguishers, and from producers of tallow, oil, resin, alcohol, and generally of everything connected with lighting" call upon the French government to take protective action against unfair competition from the sun.

It argues sarcastically: "We candlemakers are suffering from the unfair competition of a foreign rival. They argue that forcing people to close "all windows, dormers, skylights, inside and outside shutters, curtains, casements, bull's-eyes, deadlights, and blinds—in short, all openings, holes, chinks, and fissures through which the light of the sun is wont to enter houses"—will lead to a higher consumption of candles and related products.

In turn, they reason, the industries that those in the lighting industry depend on for materials will have greater sales, as will their dependent suppliers, and so on—until everyone is better off without the sun.

This satirical essay suggests that forcing people to pay for something when a free alternative is available is often a waste of resources. Rather than producing wealth, satisfying the candle maker's petition would lower overall disposable income by needlessly raising everyone's costs. Similarly, using tariffs to force people to pay more for domestic goods when cheaper foreign imports are available allows domestic producers to survive natural competition, but costs everyone as a whole.

Additionally, the money put into an uncompetitive company would be more efficiently placed into an industry in which domestic companies have a competitive advantage.

Bastiat concludes with the following remark:. Tax Laws. Investopedia uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By using Investopedia, you accept our. Your Money. Personal Finance. Your Practice. Popular Courses. Economy Economics. Table of Contents Expand. Bastiat's Argument. Key Takeaways The "Candle Maker's Petition" was a complaint written by French economist Bastiat to his government to oppose import tariffs. Bastiat instead favored free markets for international trade and competition and that tariffs would have negative unintended consequences.

Despite the economic theory underlying Bastiat's argument, protectionism still remains a tool used by governments in the global market. Compare Accounts. The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation.

Related Articles. Economics What Is International Trade? Economics Who Created Economics? Partner Links. Related Terms Frederic Bastiat Was a Forward Thinking Economist of The 19th Century Frederic Bastiat was a 19th-century economist who commented on role of the state in economic development, and for highlighting flaws in protectionism. Trade War Definition A trade war arises when one country retaliates against another by raising import tariffs or placing other restrictions on the other country's imports.

Say's Law of Markets Definition Say's Law of Markets explains that the income brought in by producers is the source of demand for goods produced later. What Was the Great Depression?

The Great Depression was a devastating and prolonged economic recession that had several contributing factors. The Depression beginning October 29, , following the crash of the U. Command Economy Definition A command economy is a system where the government determines production, investment, prices and incomes. Protectionism Definition Protectionism refers to government policies that restrict international trade to help domestic industries.


What Is the 'Candle Maker's Petition'?

Unknown translator maybe someone from the FEE. On Bastiat. To the Honourable Members of the Chamber of Deputies. You reject abstract theories and have little regard for abundance and low prices. You concern yourselves mainly with the fate of the producer. You wish to free him from foreign competition, that is, to reserve the domestic market for domestic industry.


Frédéric Bastiat

A Freemason and a member of the French National Assembly , Bastiat developed the economic concept of opportunity cost and introduced the parable of the broken window. As an advocate of classical economics and the economics of Adam Smith , his views favored a free market and influenced the Austrian School. His father, Pierre Bastiat, was a prominent businessman in the town. The Bastiat estate in Mugron had been acquired during the French Revolution and had previously belonged to the Marquis of Poyanne. He was fostered by his paternal grandfather and his maiden aunt Justine Bastiat. He attended a school in Bayonne, but his aunt thought poorly of it and so enrolled him in the school Saint-Sever. It was the same firm where his father had been a partner.

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