Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on September 27, 2013

in Complexity & Emergence, Hayek, Work

… is from page 123 of F.A. Hayek’s 1960 volume, The Constitution of Liberty (emphasis added):

There can be little doubt, at any rate, that employment has become not only the actual but the preferred position of the majority of the population, who find that it gives them what they mainly want: an assured fixed income available for current expenditure, more or less automatic raises, and provision for old age.  They are thus relieved of some of the responsibilities of economic life; and quite naturally they feel that economic misfortune, when it comes as a result of a decline or failure of the employing organization, is clearly not their fault but somebody else’s.  It is not surprising, then, that they should wish to have some tutelary power watch over the directing activities which they do not understand but on which their livelihood depends.

Where this class predominates, the conception of social justice become largely adjusted to its needs. This applies not only to legislation but also to institutions and business practices.  Taxation comes to be based on a conception of income which is essentially that of the employee.  The paternalistic provisions of the social services are tailored almost exclusively to his requirements.  Even the standards and techniques of consumers’ credit are primarily adjusted to them.  And all that concerns the possession and employment of capital as part of making one’s living comes to be treated as the special interest of a small privileged group which can justly be discriminated against.

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