Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on February 23, 2018

in Competition, Crony Capitalism, Trade

… is from page 151-152 of the 1992 Liberty Fund edition of John Taylor‘s 1822 tract, Tyranny Unmasked:

Monopoly is a word sufficiently indefinite, to enable ingenuity to obscure its malignity, by extending it to property acquired by industry and free exchanges; and though private property begets civilization, society, and happiness, it is made, by calling it monopoly, to supply arguments for its own invasion.  If monopoly, like money, does really reach every species of acquisition, yet it may also possess good and evil qualities; and a discrimination between them is necessary, to reap the good and avoid the evil.  The monopolies obtained by industry, admitting the phrase to be correct, are, like earning money, beneficial to society; those obtained by exclusive privileges, like stealing money, are pernicious.

DBx: If a firm grows to be unusually large in a free market, it does so only because it is unusually good at satisfying consumer demands.  But count on it: pundits, professors, and politicians will nevertheless complain bitterly of the “monopoly” harms that this firm is imagined to impose on the good people of the country.  Yet if a firm is failing, or is not doing quite as well as its owners and workers desire it to do, many of these very same pundits, professors, and politicians insist that the good people of the country will be well-served only if the government arranges for this firm to grow larger by bestowing upon it artificial monopoly power in the form of penalties extracted from the good people of the country who purchase foreign-produced products instead of the products produced by this privileged firm.

It’s utterly bizarre to fear and complain about the genuine successes of firms achieved through what Deirdre McCloskey calls “market-tested competition” while simultaneously welcoming and celebrating the artificial ‘successes’ of firms achieved through the application of state privilege and force.


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