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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page v of Edwin Cannan‘s Preface to his remarkable 1927 collection, An Economist’s Protest:

unknownI had long been a protestant against the current identification of “the country” or “the nation” (that is, the country or the nation of the speaker or writer) with the economic “society” or “community.”

DBx: All great and good economists – from Adam Smith to Deirdre McCloskey and beyond – understand, as the great Cannan understood, that the larger the expanse of trade and reach of commerce, the more prosperous, the more peaceful, the more civilized, and, indeed, the more intelligent are people.  Commerce kept confined by tradition, by culture, or by the force of arms to some political jurisdiction such as “the country” or “the nation” keeps the people of that country or nation poorer and less civilized.  Trade kept confined by popular and silly fevers such as the “buy local” movement to different locales likewise keeps the people of those locales poorer and less civilized.

Yet the superstitions that lead many conservatives and “Progressives” to believe that trade is zero-sum, and to suppose that successful efforts to artificially raise the incomes of some existing, highly visible national or local producers thereby raise the incomes of almost everyone within the nation or locales, endure.  These superstitions endure against all logic, against all sound economics, and against all experience.

And so all economists worth their salt must tirelessly do battle against these superstitions.