… is from page 528 of Will & Ariel Durant’s 1963 volume, The Age of Louis XIV :
As wealth rose, men built sturdier houses that could keep rats at a respectable distance and so reduce the spread of plague.
DBx: As we grow more materially prosperous, we grow cleaner. Also, we become ever-less exposed to the perils and hazards and horrors that afflicted nearly all of our pre-modern ancestors. Most of these dangers, take note, are made by nature as opposed to by humans.
And we grow more materially prosperous only through market-directed specialization and innovation, and the trade upon which such specialization and innovation depend.
Such specialization and trade diminish the more the state bears down on human interactions. The intentions of state officials are utterly irrelevant. The consequences of their interference with peaceful cooperation and exchange will nearly always be ill.
I can find no reason to believe that any of the many government officials, whether elected or appointed, who issued shelter-in-place orders and other commands that prevent the routine conduct of economic and social affairs have any sense of the true consequences of their rash actions. I say again: these officials are the very same ones who we true liberals are forever accusing – rightly so – of either being unable to understand the simplest lessons of Econ 101 or of being shamelessly willing to grab and exercise power in ways contrary to the public good. Please, please, please someone tell me why we should trust that these same ignorant or venal (or both) officials acted with reasonable knowledge, prudence, and public spirit in the face of covid?