≡ Menu

Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 49 of Mariano Grondona’s 2000 essay “A Cultural Typology of Economic Development,” which is chapter 4 in Culture Matters, Lawrence E. Harrison and Samuel P. Huntington, eds. (2000) (original emphasis; footnote omitted):

In societies resistant to development, wealth above all consists of what exists; in favorable societies, wealth above all consists of what does not yet exist.  In the underdeveloped world, the principal wealth resides in land and what derives from it.  In the developed world, the principal wealth resides in the promising processes of innovation.  In the resistant society, real value resides, for example, in today’s computer, whereas the favorable society focuses on the generation of computers to come.

Even in today’s most dynamic societies there remain some remnants of an atavistic fear of innovation and change.  These remnants reveal themselves most frequently in calls for tariffs and other forms of ‘protection’ against international trade.  The American or Japanese protectionist (or, as he or she today prefers to be mislabeled, the “fair trader”) who calls for tariffs to protect today’s firms, industries, jobs, and consumption patterns shows his or her connection with the very same forces that keep many sub-Saharan African and other third-world countries static and miserably poor.  And the great irony in this fact is that many of these change- and competition-fearing ‘protectionists’ sincerely believe themselves to be “progressive.”

Russ’s book The Choice remains an unmatched account of the dangers of using government force to protect today’s industries from competition, from consumer choice, and, hence, from tomorrow’s better products and superior processes of production.