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Quotation of the Day…

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… is from page 86 of University of London historian Frank Trentmann’s excellent 2008 book, Free Trade Nation: Commerce, Consumption, and Civil Society in Modern Britain [2]; I again thank Walter Grinder for bringing this volume to my attention (footnotes excluded):

On the eve of the First World War, Treasury economist Ralph Hawtrey penned a long ‘Afterthought on Protectionism’ in which he criticized Free Traders and Tariff Reformers alike for popularizing and simplifying their mantras.  Yet Hawtrey had the good sense to realize that ‘philosophers are not kings’.  Politics followed a logic different from that of scholarly inquiry: ‘arguments are no use in political controversy … [if they] are too refined for the comprehension of the electorate or of the average politician’.  Nor was ignorance the preserve of the masses.  At the Treasury, the staunch Free Trader Francis Mowatt was literally in despair in 1903 during the cabinet crisis over [Joseph] Chamberlain’s proposals: half the cabinet did not appear to understand basic economics.

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