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Quotation of the Day…

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… is from pages 261-262 of Anthony de Jasay’s remarkable 1998 book, The State [2] (original emphasis; footnotes deleted):

Since economic policy causes prices and factor incomes to be other than what they would be in a policyless capitalist state, and since it may in any case be inherently impossible to “know” the ultimate incidence of the total set of directives, incentives, prohibitions, taxes, tariffs, etc. in force, a subject need not be stupid to be mistaken about where the churning around him really leaves him.

It is in the state’s interest to foster systematic error.  The more people think they are gainers and the fewer who resent this, the cheaper it is – crudely speaking – to split society into two moderately unequal halves and secure the support of the preponderant half.

Government officials lie systematically.  By this claim I do not refer to the well-known exaggerations, lies, half-truths, and cover-ups routinely issued by campaigning politicians; these falsehoods are so common and commonly recognized that they are the subject of jokes.  Indeed, these falsehoods are so common that their very frequency serves in the public mind as reason to excuse politicians’ commission of these falsehoods.

Instead, by the claim that government officials lie systematically I refer to the official lies that are widely regarded to be true.  These official lies range from maddening but only relatively mildly harmful ones (such as that subsidies dispensed by the likes of that great geyser of cronyism, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, strengthen the domestic economy) to cruel and lethal lies (such as that it’s noble and helpful to die “for your country” in whatever skirmishes, battles, or wars the current gaggle of state officials happens to involve “our” military in).

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