… is from page 175 of the final volume – Bourgeois Equality – of Deirdre McCloskey’s trilogy on the essence and role of bourgeois values in modern life:
People in pre-Benthamite Europe saw the state merely as an instrument of the interests, nothing like a disinterested body, and certainly not an instrument of progress. When it attempted to be an instrument of progress, as in the case of the chronically meddling French state, it often chose wrongly, driving by mistaken theories and monopoly interests.
Monopoly interests like nothing better than that the people and the pundits and the press (and, hence, the politicians) hold mistaken theories, for these mistaken theories blind the people and the pundits and the press to the monopoly-interests’ destructive machinations. For example: mistaken theories convince the people that they are enriched when they are punitively taxed for purchasing imports; and mistaken theories convince the people that they are enriched when they are prohibited from being able to compete for jobs by offering to work at wages below legislatively set minimums; these mistaken theories blind the people not only to the harms that they suffer from such interventions, but also to the rents greedily reaped by the special-interest groups who invariably operate craftily behind the scenes to push for these interventions.