… is from pages 212-213 of the 2011 Definitive Edition (Ronald Hamowy, ed.) of F.A. Hayek’s soaring 1960 book, The Constitution of Liberty (footnote excluded):
We have seen that the opportunities for learning about new possibilities that the growth of civilization constantly offers provide one of the main arguments for freedom; it would therefore make nonsense of the whole case for freedom if, because of the envy of others or because of their dislike of anything that disturbs their ingrained habits of thought, we should be restrained from pursuing certain activities.
DBx: Excuses for restricting the range of peaceful actions of others are legion. Almost all such excuses, when peeled to their core, reveal venality, ignorance, or arrogance.
Cane growers in Florida and Louisiana clamor for tariffs on Americans who buy foreign-produced sugar; they do so because they seek to enrich themselves at the (greater) expense of their fellow Americans. They are venal. (They are not, however, ignorant; they understand that tariffs artificially enlarge their customer base and sales revenues.)
Intellectual proponents of industrial policy clamor for tariffs on Americans who buy foreign-produced goods and services because their sensibilities are disturbed by what they (often mistakenly) imagine to be the outcomes of freedom. They are either ignorant or arrogant. The either do not understand how markets operate and what is the actual state of the world, or they personally dislike the state of the world and arrogantly wish to use government coercion in attempts to form the state of the world more to their liking.
All advocates of restrictions on freedom of commerce elevate their own interests, fancies, misperceptions, and superstitions above the interests, knowledge, and freedom of millions of ordinary men, women, and children. The struggle against these venal, ignorant, and arrogant enemies of peaceful commerce is never-ending.
One-hundred and twenty-one years ago on this date – May 8th – in Vienna F.A. Hayek was born. Although he lived to be almost 93, his life was far too short.