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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 165 of George Will’s 2019 book, The Conservative Sensibility:

Rent-seeking is an unfortunately opaque name that has come to be attached to an even more unfortunate practice…. Tariffs, for example, confer rents on manufacturers of protected goods by depriving consumers of the ability to purchase competing imported goods without paying the price of the tariff. Occupational licensing restrictions, by limiting the entry of new competitors into professions, confer rents on those who are already established in the professions: The rents are the economic value of the government-imposed exemption from competition.

DBx: Yes.

Always remember this reality: every protective tariff, and every occupational-licensing requirement, is an instance of some of your fellow citizens obstructing your freedom to spend your money as you see fit. Those of your fellow citizens who offer apparent justifications for the state’s officious obstruction of your freedom to spend your money as you see fit are never at a loss for fanciful tales of how the artificial burdens inflicted upon you will somehow, one day, redound to your benefit.

But do not believe these tales. They are excuses for the state’s robbery of you and of other peaceful people. If you have any desire to retain your dignity as a human being, never fall for the self-serving and intelligence-insulting fables fed to you by protectionists and their apologists. You might not, at acceptable cost, be able to resist the force applied on you by the state. But you are never obliged to excuse the state – intellectually or ethically – for its cronyist plunder of you and innocent others. And every protective tariff, and every occupational-licensing restriction, is an instance of such plunder of you and innocent others.


The image above is of the cover of the superb 1981 book by my inspiring teacher (and dissertation advisor) Bob Ekelund, and my former colleague Bob Tollison, on mercantilism as systematized rent-seeking.


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