≡ Menu

Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 25 of my late Nobel laureate colleague Jim Buchanan’s 1977 article “Law and the Invisible Hand,” as this article is reprinted in the 1977 collection of some of Jim’s essays, Freedom in Constitutional Contract:

I have often argued that there is only one principle in economics that is worth stressing, and that the economists’ didactic function is one of conveying some understanding of this principle to the public at large.  Apart from this principle there would be no basis for general public support for economics as a legitimate academic discipline, no place for economics as an appropriate part of a liberal educational curriculum.  I refer, of course, to the principle of the spontaneous order of the market, which is the great intellectual discovery of the eighteenth century.

DBx: Exactly.

Whatever you think the role of government has been, is, or should be in supplying law, infrastructure, education, research and development, and encouragement to specific industries, this reality is indisputable by anyone who has examined reality with any care: the modern market, of which any reader of this blog is a part, is overwhelmingly the result of human action but not of human design.  No one planned this market or created it; no person or committee of indefatigable geniuses can possibly have come close to doing so.  This order, which is thick all around each of us every moment of every day, is emergent and ever-changing in its details.  Without it, most of us would never have been born, and many of the rest of us would have died after having lived short, dreary lives surrounded by filth and filled with miserable toil.  Yet not one in ten-thousand people today appreciates the market.  And even fewer appreciate the emergent forces that were and remain necessary for its functioning.


Next post:

Previous post: