… is from page 182 of Matt Ridley’s 2010 book, The Rational Optimist (link added):
Economists are quick to speak of ‘market failure’, and rightly so, but a greater threat comes from ‘government failure‘. Because it is a monopoly, government brings inefficiency and stagnation to most things it runs; government agencies pursue the inflation of their budgets rather than the service of their customers; pressure groups form an unholy alliance with agencies to extract more money from taxpayers for their members. Yet despite all this, most clever people still call for government to run more things and assume that if it did so, it would somehow be more perfect, more selfless, next time.
Precisely so. Faith in government is irrational and (at least for economists who justify government action as a means of reducing the number and severity of free-rider problems) inconsistent; such faith reflects a belief in miracles.