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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 155-156 of the 1948 printing of the second edition (1935) of Lionel Robbins’s classic 1932 tract, An Essay on the Nature & Significance of Economic Science (footnotes omitted):

It may well be that there may exist differences as regards ultimate ends in modern society which render some conflict inevitable.  But it is clear that many of our most pressing difficulties arise, not for this reason, but because our aims are not co-ordinated.  As consumers we will cheapness, as producers we choose security.  We value one distribution of factors of production as private spenders and savers.  As public citizens we sanction arrangements which frustrate the achievement of this distribution.  We call for cheap money and lower prices, fewer imports and a larger volume of trade.  The different “will-organisations” in society, although composed of the same individuals, formulate different preferences.  Everywhere our difficulties seem to arise, not so much from divisions between the different members of the body politic, as from, as it were, split personalities on the part of each one of them.

To such a situation, Economics brings the solvent of knowledge.  It enables us to conceive the far-reaching implications of alternative possibilities of policy.


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