… is from page 302 of Vol. 19 (Ideas, Persons, and Events ) of The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan; specifically, it’s from Jim’s 1996 essay “Adam Smith as Inspiration”:
In part, Adam Smith was fortunate in being able to exploit the intellectual excitement that was already present in the developing recognition that markets work, provided that the essential framework parameters are in place. The political function of the market economy in making detailed direction [by government agents] of resource use unnecessary – this is an immensely powerful idea whose time had come, and an idea that had, and still can have, profound implications.
DBx: People who do not understand economics too readily leap to the conclusion that we proponents of free markets are either strange risk-preferring people who wish to leave economic affairs to random chance, or that we are stealthy agents for the rich and powerful who – those ignorant of economics assume – are the only people who benefit from free markets and the private property rights on which markets rest. Nancy MacLean seems to be one of the economically ignorant people who, refusing to believe that many well-meaning and intelligent people actually believe in the efficacy and fairness of free and depoliticized markets, assume that anyone who expresses support for free markets is an operative for oligarchs. Of course, her opinion is juvenile and without merit, yet it is very common today even among – perhaps especially among – intellectuals.