… is from page 487 of the great Armen Alchian‘s 1975 essay “An Introduction to Confusion,” as reprinted in The Collected Works of Armen A. Alchian (2006), Volume 1 (“Choice and Cost Under Uncertainty”; Daniel K. Benjamin, ed.); this essay is Alchian’s insightful response to the Final Report of the Energy Policy Project of the Ford Foundation (original emphasis):
Political controls on our use of energy – whether for outdoor lighting, household heating, or swimming pool heating – means simply that an elite group is undertaking to limit the options of other people. Has the lesson of Nixon’s administration been ignored? The Report recommends a higher gasoline tax and mandatory gasoline mileage standards to conserve gasoline – even beyond the amount available at costs that match the price people are willing to pay to get the gasoline (the value they place on it). Such overconservation, making the costs of energy use appear higher than they really are, is a kind of masochism.
Or, worse, it’s a kind of sadism, with elites in government sneeringly restricting the choices that each of hundreds of millions of individuals makes in light of that individual’s unique circumstances and preferences and constraints. Such restrictions – not only, of course, on energy use, but also on countless other dimensions of choice – are the result of nothing other than the arrogant presumptions held by those with power that they – the powerful – are entitled to lord it over individuals who are less powerful.
Statism is sadism.