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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 695 of volume 2 of The Collected Works of Armen A. Alchian (2006); specifically, it’s from Alchian‘s November 1960 Freeman essay, co-authored with Bill Allen, “The Economics of Rational Assistance” (or, it’s original title, “Aid Alternatives and Discrimination“) (original emphasis):

Economics, accurately conceived, is directed to the analysis not of selfish behavior as such, but of efficient behavior.  The basic question asked by the economist is not, “In light of the egocentric avariciousness of people, how can one best skin one’s neighbor?”  Rather, he asks, “In light of the scarcity of resources, how can one squeeze the greatest return – which can take myriad forms, e.g., goods, power, utility, inner glow of contentment – from given productive services, talents, and environment?  Or, alternatively, how can one achieve his desired goals with the minimum cost?”  His goals can involve not only his own immediate welfare, but also that of other people.