Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on September 2, 2011

in Hubris and humility, Other People's Money

… is from page 118 of Deirdre McCloskey’s 1996 book The Vices of Economists – The Virtues of the Bourgeoisie (original emphasis):

But in any event some economist claims he can be prudent on your behalf is not something you should believe if such knowledge could make him rich, and as an adult it’s not something you should stand for.  You are not being made “free” by being manipulated by the government.

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David R. Henderson September 2, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Did you correctly quote the first sentence? If so, what does it mean?

ArrowSmith September 2, 2011 at 4:26 pm

What do you think it means?

The Other Tim September 2, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I don’t think that’s an interpretational “what does that mean?”, I think it’s a syntactic “what does that mean?” I can’t really follow the clause structure either.

Ken September 2, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Leave off the first few words and break it into more than one sentence. The meaning of the sentence remains the same when read

“When some economist claims he can be prudent on your behalf, you should not believe him, particularly if such knowledge could make him rich. Being lied to like this is not something you should put up with.”

The way the sentence is written, it clearly would flow better in the paragraph from which it was taken. Setting it off by itself, starting with “But in any event” doesn’t sound or read very well.


vidyohs September 2, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I think that is something we all should have learned at our daddy’s knee when were yet but wee tads.

DG Lesvic September 2, 2011 at 5:08 pm

I did, my father telling me that the business of the public was the business of no one. And I have no doubt that you’ll find the same sort of thing throughout social thought back to Greek times.

It’s all to the good to have these things restated.

But that’s all it is, restatement of what intelligent people have known and been saying for thousands of years, and not some brilliant new insight or school of economic or political thought.

DG Lesvic September 2, 2011 at 8:55 pm

And remember that in Political Economy the emphasis should be on the Economy and not the Political, that there was wise political thought for thousands of years but very little liberty until there was the purely economic thought of the 18th and 19th Centuries, and that liberty declined in the 20th as economic thought declined.

All of the wise political and psychological insights of the McCloskeys and Buchanans are just a side show. The main event is the economics mainly of Mises.

J Cross September 2, 2011 at 7:02 pm

The first sentence is awesome. Reminds me of the best advice I ever received on investing (receiving it, fortunately, before I even had enough money to think about investing): the man selling investing advice almost certainly does not make his money investing; he makes it selling advice. (The advice was received for free from a friend who did make a lot of money investing.)

Seth September 3, 2011 at 10:16 am

Same goes for business strategy consultants. Of course, ‘selling advice’ could mean several things.

Like, reassuring folks that all will be well someday when they’ve taken a big loss. Or, providing a convenient scapegoat if things turn out badly, thus sparing one’s own ego.

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