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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 271 of the American jurist James Coolidge Carter’s brilliant yet unfortunately neglected (posthumous) 1907 book, Law: Its Origin, Growth and Function (original emphasis):

Enacting law is the giving of a command such as a superior gives to an inferior, and does not absolutely require any knowledge at all in him who gives it, and such commands are in fact often given by those who have no, or little, knowledge or whose knowledge is of a kind not at all desirable.

DBx: By “enacting law” Coolidge here means, more precisely, enacting legislation. As Leoni, like Coolidge, taught – and as Hayek emphasized – law is a very different set of rules from the commands imposed by legislation. It is, I continue to insist, a grave misfortune that the word “legislation” is used synonymously with “law.

But regardless of what the commands issued by government officials are called, these commands are – as Coolidge accurately observed – very frequently issued by officials with no real knowledge of the realities into which they are imposing their commands. These officials, in our day, have great knowledge about how to win the popularity contests that are political elections. A widespread secular dogma is that success at winning elections somehow – just how is never revealed – gives to election winners greater knowledge and information (and a superhuman solicitude for humanity) than is possessed by the mere mortals over whom these election-winners wield their power.