… is from page 155 of my colleague Walter Williams’s 1999 collection, More Liberty Means Less Government; specifically, it’s from Walter’s July 1997 essay “Decent People Helping Tyrants”:
In pursuit of what’s deemed as worthy objectives, decent people often pave the way for tyranny.
The process usually begins by the piecemeal destruction of the foundations of liberty: private property, rule of law, voluntary exchange, and limited government. Those basic rights often stand in the way of do-gooders’ objectives.
Once those foundations have become seriously eroded, it’s an easy matter for egoists and tyrants to take over and produce an agenda quite different from do-gooder intentions.