Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on July 18, 2012

in Property Rights, Regulation

… is from pages 83-84 of the 1849 edition – the 4th edition – of J.R. McCulloch‘s Principles of Political Economy:

But it must not be imagined that the security of property is violated only when a man is deprived of the power of peaceably enjoying the fruits of his industry: it is also violated, and perhaps in a still more glaring and unjustifiable manner, when he is prevented from using the powers given him by nature, in any way, not injurious to others, he considers most beneficial for himself.  Of all the species of property which a man can possess, the faculties of his mind and powers of his body are most particularly his own.  He should, therefore, be permitted to enjoy, that is, to use or exert, these powers at his discretion.  And hence this right is as much infringed upon when a man is interdicted from engaging in a particular branch of business, as when he is unjustly deprived of the property he has produced or accumulated.  All monopolies which give to a few individuals the power of carrying on certain branches of industry to the exclusion of others, are thus, in fact, established in direct violation of the property of every one else.  They prevent them from using their natural capacities or powers in what they might have considered the best manner; and, as every man not a slave is justly held to be the best, and, indeed, only judge of what is advantageous for himself, the most obvious principles of justice and the right of property are both subverted when he is excluded from an employment.

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