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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 152 of Richard Epstein’s 2003 book, Skepticism and Freedom:

The moment that the state has power to cure suspect preferences, the risk of state monopoly on matters of thought looms large: recall again the history of Jim Crow.

It’s wise to recall a fact that is typically overlooked: Jim Crow was legislation.  That legislation was felt – in the American south, in the late-19th-century, by southern ‘leaders’ – to be necessary in order to correct the revealed preferences of too many ordinary southerners.  Those revealed preferences were that segregation wasn’t worth the private cost of enforcing it.  In other words, southern ‘leaders,’ back then (supported by southerners’ expressive preferences unleashed at the ballot box), regarded southerners’ revealed private preferences to be wrong; ordinary southerners just didn’t behave as they ‘should’; they were insufficiently bigoted.  Jim Crow legislation was meant to promote ‘proper’ behavior – behavior more consistent with ‘correct’ preferences.