… is from page 191 of my colleague Bryan Caplan’s indispensable 2007 book, The Myth of the Rational Voter :
“Put your money where your mouth is” turns out to be a great way to get the well informed to reveal what they know, and the poorly informed to quiet down.
DBx: Whenever you hear a politician – or a professor, or a preacher, or a pundit, or anyone – assert that there is some ‘imperfection’ or ‘failure’ in reality that government should forthwith ‘correct’ or ‘fix’ with some combination of force and other-people’s money, beware. Before you take such a person seriously, first ask why he or she isn’t personally seizing the opportunity to profit from the imperfection that he or she so confidently insists exists. It’s possible that, should you ask this question, you’ll arrive at an acceptable answer depending upon the particulars of the circumstances. If so, give the person who issues such a declaration more attention.
But on many – I would say most – occasions, you will find no acceptable answer to your question. The person making such a declaration will be revealed by the very asking of your question to be someone who is speaking cheaply – someone with no skin in the game, yet who nevertheless is arrogant enough to fancy himself or herself sufficiently godlike to recommend just how other people’s skins should be put into the game.
The arrogance of the typical person who recommends government obstructions and prohibitions on the private choices of ordinary people peacefully going about the daily business of their lives is titanic.