… is from page 77 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:
True, considering the role of habit in human life, to achieve a glorious social project a direct order through a bureaucracy backed by the threat of coercion might be faster than market-communicated suggestions that the price is too high or the quality too low. We don’t actually think so. And coming down instead on the statist side depends on assuming in the first place that the coerced project is sensible, as it regularly is not.
DBx: As a rule, any idea or scheme that people must be coerced to follow is lousy. A civilized and productive individual persuades, without coercion or trickery, other persons to act in accordance with his or her suggestions. McDonald’s persuades people to dine at its establishments. Amazon, Google, and Facebook persuade other people to use their services. Apple persuades other people to buy its products. Wal-Mart, Ikea, and Dollar General persuade other people to shop in their stores.
In stark contrast, government coerces. And as H.L. Mencken observed, “The kind of man who demands that government enforce his ideas is always the kind whose ideas are idiotic.” Good ideas need only persuasion to make them acceptable; ideas that must be coercively imposed are nearly always – yes – idiotic. Alas, our world is over-populated with men and women whose ideas are idiotic – and proven to be so by the fact that these ideas must be imposed with coercion.
Why in heaven’s name do so many people suppose that those who can coerce are more likely than are those who must persuade to take into careful consideration the wishes of other people? It’s the darnedest puzzle, one that I’m certain that I will never solve.
Pictured above is former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich – a long-time advocate of industrial policy.