The Nature of the Welfare State by Sheldon Richman, Welfare-state programs have three central characteristics: plunder, deception, and obfuscation. Because those programs always effect a forcible transfer of wealth from one group of individuals to another, they involve what the great 19th-century economist Frederic Bastiat called "legalized plunder." The law sanctions stealing in these cases and is thereby changed from its original purpose, which was to protect people's rights and property. Bastiat's classic book The Law explains this point with the utmost clarity. .