… is from page 55 of Deirdre McCloskey’s insightful 1994 collection, Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics :
For all their quarrelsomeness, economists know a lot. Some of it is obvious, the common sense of adults, such as that many things are scarce and that therefore we can’t have everything. The postulate of scarcity is what makes economics hard to teach to young adults, who believe they live among the blessed.
Indeed. And the juvenile delusion that scarcity is unreal, over-hyped, or the artifact of evil human institutions devised by the demonic amongst us is only further encouraged by countless ‘adult’ politicians, professors, pundits, preachers, and popes who regularly speak and write as if trade-offs need not be made – as if this government giveaway or that government diktat is free (or comes at the expense only of ‘the rich’). Wealth redistribution? Free for the poor! They will get richer by the exact amount that the rich get poorer. Trade restrictions? Free for domestic workers! They keep their jobs without any of them suffering fewer job opportunities, lower wages, and reduced options as consumers. Minimum wages? Free for workers! Low-skilled workers simply get more take-home pay without any reduction in job opportunities or changes in the types of jobs and in work duties. Environmental regulations? Free for ‘the people’ who get a cleaner environment paid for only by businesses or ‘the rich.’
Lovely world. Fantasy world.