Bonus Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on August 2, 2020

in Other People's Money, Reality Is Not Optional

… is another two-fer: It’s from page 75 of the May 9th, 2020, draft of the important forthcoming monograph from Deirdre McCloskey and Alberto Mingardi, The Illiberal and Anti-Entrepreneurial State of Mariana Mazzucato – a passage in which McCloskey and Mingardi quote from Herbert Spencer’s July 1853 Westminster Review essay, “Over-Legislation”:

On the best reasonable suppositions, then, the political route seems rocky compared with the relatively smooth path of decision-making by private entrepreneurs, owners of stock, and the markets in which they trade. Again Herbert Spencer put it well, in 1853: “Which will be the most healthful community—that in which agents who perform their functions badly, immediately suffer by the withdrawal of public patronage; or that in which such agents can be made to suffer only through an apparatus of meetings, petitions, polling-booths, parliamentary divisions, cabinet-councils, and red-tape documents? Is it not an absurdly utopian hope that men will behave better when correction is far removed and uncertain than when it is near at hand and inevitable? Yet this is the hope which most political schemers unconsciously cherish.”

DBx: I myself quoted this very passage from Spencer a few years ago here at Cafe Hayek. Yet it is so very good that it is here worth pondering again. (The objection made by here by McCloskey and Mingardi, and Spencer, to turning the task of resource-allocation over to state officials is simply ignored by most industrial-policy proponents and others who wish to turn the task of resource allocation over to state officials. How such literal ignorance ever gets classified as ‘science’ or as serious thinking, I do not know.)

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