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Quotation of the Day…

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… is from page 134 of George Will’s 2019 book, The Conservative Sensibility [2]:

Funding the welfare state by vast borrowing and regulatory taxation hides the costs from the public. Hence its political potency. Until the implosion.

DBx: Two facts are here dominant. One: compared to when Smith spends his own money, when Jones spends money that Smith has little choice but to turn over to Jones (whose job security turns on his spending Smith’s money), that money is spent more profligately. Two: Smith’s money eventually runs out.

Jones – attentive chiefly to his job-security – is nevertheless undaunted. Smith’s children and grandchildren have money that Jones then takes by borrowing from Williams. Smith’s progeny bear the burden of this debt.


Progressives – especially ones with some knowledge of mainstream economics – are hyper-attentive to any and all manner of “externalities” and other “market failures”: decision-making situations in which one party has inadequate incentives to take account of the legitimate interests of other parties, or in which a person is impaired in her ability to take adequate account of her own interests.

Many such alleged “market failures” are no such thing. They are mirages created by Progressives’ habit of assuming that everyone has the same tastes and preferences as those of Progressives. But even those non-ideal market ‘outcomes’ that aren’t mirages of this sort are not necessarily ‘outcomes’ that can be reliably ‘corrected’ by anyone this side of omniscience and omni-benevolence.

Progressives assume that all of the human frailties and imperfections that add fuel to Progressive skepticism of markets mysteriously disappear when humans act politically. For example, the same Progressive who, professing great concern for future generations, demands regulations and taxes to reduce Smith’s emissions of carbon, is blind to the effect on future generations of Jones’s emissions of government debt.