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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 137 of Deirdre McCloskey’s superb 2019 book, Why Liberalism Works: How True Liberal Values Produce a Freer, More Equal, Prosperous World for All (original emphasis):

People need to be liberated chiefly from their watchmen – the bureaucrats, the police, the politicians. Who watches the very watchmen? Yet I am a humane true liberal, and acknowledge a responsibility to help the poor. But the chief way to help them is to allow them to work with self-respect for the paid benefit to others, as you and I do – that is, at the market rates the watchmen are mainly in the business of preventing from operating.

DBx: Yes.

There is no genuine dignity – and nothing whatsoever to admire or applaud – about having a job the pay of which is made higher because your customers are coercively obstructed from dealing peacefully with your commercial rivals. Working at such a job is no more dignified or admirable than is working as a robber.

The disreputability and social-destructiveness of employment under such circumstances – for example, employment made possible by tariffs – is hidden from most eyes because, irony of irony, the task of exercising coercion is outsourced by protected workers to the state. Not personally exercising the coercion that is responsible for artificially increasing the demand for his or her labor services, the protected worker gets to pretend to himself or herself, and to the world, that his or her job is just as dignified, admirable, and applause-worthy as is any other job.

It’s quite a lamentable situation when we accord respect – and allow self-respect – equally to those have their particular jobs only because their fellow human beings are coerced, and to those who have their particular jobs as a result of persuading their fellow human beings voluntarily to trade with them. Only the latter is respectable and dignified (and truly productive). The former is parasitism.