Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on November 20, 2017

in Man of System, Myths and Fallacies, Nanny State

… is from pages 207-208 of the final (2016) volume – Bourgeois Equality – of Deirdre McCloskey‘s great trilogy on the essence of bourgeois values, on their transmission, and on their essential role in modern:

In [Adam] Smith’s time, and now again in the regulatory state, few believed that a masterless society would be possible.  The haunting fear by governing elites supported by worried citizens stirred up by an antitrade clerisy was then, and still is, that ordinary people will do bad things if left alone.  Unless overawed by the threat of state violence in police or planning or regulation, ordinary people, especially the lower classes, will spurn priests, stop paying their rents and taxes, not save enough for old age, kill each other, not buy enough insurance, speak against the government, appear with hair uncovered, refuse military service, drink to excess, commit unnatural acts, use naughty words, chew gum, smoke marihuana – committing in sum, as Bill Murray put it in Ghost Busters, “human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.”  A progressive or a conservative program of heavy regulation is a first-night-in-Ferguson-Missouri notion of keeping order.  It is the justification of all tyranny, hard or soft.


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