Bastiat’s “A Petition,” usually referred to now as “The Petition of the Candlemakers,” displays his rhetorical skill and rakish tone, as this excerpt illustrates:
We are suffering from the ruinous competition of a foreign rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light, that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low price.... This rival ... is none other than the sun....
We ask you to be so good as to pass a law requiring the closing of all windows, dormers, skylights, inside and outside shutters, curtains, casements, bull’s-eyes, deadlights and blinds; in short, all openings, holes, chinks, and fissures.
This reductio ad absurdum of protectionism was so effective that one of the most successful postwar economics textbooks, Economics by Paul A. Samuelson, quotes the candlemakers’ petition at the head of the chapter on protectionism.