Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on December 8, 2013

in Creative destruction, Crony Capitalism, Growth, Standard of Living

… is from pages 421-422 of Deirdre McCloskey’s stupendous 2010 volume, Bourgeois Dignity:

If bourgeois dignity and liberty are not on the whole embraced by public opinion, in the face of the sneers by the clerisy and the machinations of special interests, the enrichment of the poor doesn’t happen, because innovation doesn’t.  You achieve merely through a doctrine of compelled charity in taxation and redistribution the “sanctification of envy,” as the Christian economist the late Paul Heyne put it.  The older suppliers win.  Everyone else loses.  You ask God to take out two of your neighbor’s eyes, or to kill your neighbor’s goat.  You work at your grandfather’s job in the field or factory instead of going to university.  You stick with old ideas, and the old ferry company.  You remain contentedly, or not so contentedly, at $3 a day, using the old design of a sickle.  You continue to buy food for your kids at the liquor store at the corner of Cottage Grove and 79th Street.  And most of us remain unspeakably poor and ignorant.

Yes.  And so how very ironic that so much of “Progressive” ideology today is hostile to bourgeois dignity and liberty.  How very dangerous that that ideology focuses upon interventions by Great Leaders, plans from the top, and taxation as keys to progress.  How sad that “Progressives” concentrate – because of a combination of envy, childishness, and economic ignorance – on “redistribution” rather than upon institutions and markets and innovation and liberty that alone are able to ensure widespread and increasing prosperity for everyone.

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