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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 118 of the 1981 Liberty Fund edition of Herbert Spencer’s 1884 tract, The Man Versus the State:

One might have expected that whether they observed the implications of these domestic failures, or whether they contemplated in every newspaper the indications of a social life too vast, too varied, too involved, to be even vaguely pictured in thought, men would have entered on the business of law-making with the greatest hesitation. Yet in this more than anything else do they show a confident readiness. Nowhere is there so astounding a contrast between the difficulty of the task and the unpreparedness of those who undertake it. Unquestionably among monstrous beliefs one of the most monstrous is that while for a simple handicraft, such as shoemaking, a long apprenticeship is needful, the sole thing which needs no apprenticeship is making a nation’s laws!

DBx: (Obviously, by “law” Spencer here means “legislation.”)

The only “qualification” for practicing social engineering is the ability to grab political power. Yet in reality social engineering is one type of engineering at which no one – no matter his or her brilliance, education, skills, demeanor, or intentions – is remotely qualified to do. Among the greatest of all myths is the one that holds that society is much like a machine that can be improved if it is engineered by the right people. This myth is a the core of what Hayek called “the fatal conceit.”