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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 188 of George Stigler‘s 1971 essay “Can Regulatory Agencies Protect the Consumer?” – which is reprinted as Chapter 11 of Stigler’s 1975 collection, The Citizen and the State: Essays on Regulation:

The superiority of the traditional defenses of the individual – reliance upon his own efforts and the power of competition – lie precisely in the characteristics which distinguish them from public regulation.  Each of the traditional defenses is available and working at all times – self-interest and competition are never passing fads.  Each of the traditional defenses is available to individuals and small groups – changes in policy and adaptation to new circumstances do not require changes in the ponderous, expensive, insensitive machinery of a great state.  It is of regulation that that the consumer must beware.

The above quotation conveys a great deal of truth.  It’s worth emphasizing Stigler’s point here that competition and self-interest are among the great defenses naturally and incessantly in operation in markets to help protect consumers and workers from being defrauded.  In light of this reality, it is especially odd that many opponents of free markets lament both competition and self-interest, for to lament these forces is to lament two of the most important and effective means employed by nature to protect the weak and honest from being pillaged by the strong and dishonest.

A video of the conference at which Stigler delivered the remarks that became the above paper is here.