Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on July 1, 2013

in Civil Society, Nanny State, Seen and Unseen

… is from page 337 of the late Kenneth Minogue’s 2010 volume, The Servile Mind; I have yet to read this book; I found this wisdom- and insight-laden quotation in this Catallaxy Files blog post by Julie Novak:

The essence of the servile mind is the readiness to accept external direction in exchange for being relieved of the burden of a set of virtues such as thrift, self‑control, prudence, and indeed civility itself.  A national health service trades off thrift and the freedom to spend one’s own money in exchange for a guarantee that medical help will always be ‘costlessly’ available.  Accepting this trade‑off, then, comes to be understood as a virtue in itself, to be contrasted with those selfish people prepared to spend their own wealth on better treatment.  Obedience here as in other places is wrongly identified with the rule of law.  One measure of the moral decline involved in this advance of servility is that corrupt people, ranging from businessmen to legislators, justify a greedy lack of integrity by claiming that they did not break any rules.  A casuistical use of the idea that morality is nothing more than abiding by rules comes to be a license for a self‑serving misuse of office and responsibility.

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