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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 115-116 of Liberty Fund’s 1993 collection of some of the writings of H.B. Acton (1908-1974), The Morals of Markets and Related Essays (David Gordon & Jeremy Shearmur, eds.):

In an egalitarian scheme [such as ‘free’ government-supplied health care], therefore, in which everyone can gain some attention on demand and without fee, the services given are likely to be diluted, the givers of the services are likely to be overworked, and the most selfish are likely to get attention at the expense of the more conscientious or amiable members of the community.  When some quarrelsome individual enters a group he causes disputes and perhaps violence even though the other members of the group are pacific.  The desire of others for peace cannot preserve peace if there are a few who do not want it.  It is somewhat similar, I suggest, with unreasonable or unnecessary demands on public service.  If a few individuals start to push their claims too high, others are induced to make similar claims to ensure their ‘stake’ in the available resources.  There is something rather like Gresham’s Law, and irresponsible behaviour tends to drive out responsible behaviour.  The egalitarian collectivist, therefore, in removing the competition that arises from cash demand, substitutes for it competition by means of entreaty or bullying.