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Quotation of the Day…

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… is from page 38 of Manuel Ayau [2]’s excellent 2007 monograph, Not a Zero-Sum Game [3]:

Critics often argue that people with fewer opportunities are forced, by circumstances, to accept unjust conditions. But surely those conditions cannot be imputed to those who are offering them their best opportunity. On the contrary, when someone accepts an offer to trade, he is signaling that this represents an improvement over other opportunities he has, not to mention the opportunities that the critics fail to provide.

DBx: The number of people who miss this point is distressingly large. Consider, for example, the person who, immediately following a natural disaster, criticizes the merchant charging for the likes of bottled water “obscenely” high prices. Unlike the “price-gouging” merchant who is doing something to make the lives of his or her customers better than those lives would otherwise be, the critic does nothing to contribute to the improvement of the lives of the customers who, by the critic’s words, he appears to champion. Indeed, if the critic’s words are heeded by state officials – who then ban so-called “price-gouging” – the critic has made the lives of those whom he pretends to defend worse off because the quantities of goods and services supplied to the merchant’s customers will fall.

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