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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 482 of Israel Kirzner’s January 1984 Economic Affairs note titled “Incentives for Discovery,” as this note is reprinted in the 2019 collection of some of Kirzner’s papers (edited by Peter J. Boettke and Frédéric Sautet), Reflections on Ethics, Freedom, Welfare Economics, Policy, and the Legacy of Austrian Economics (original emphases):

In the economic context the problem is that no one knows in advance what is urgently “waiting” to be discovered….

So… to stimulate discovery of socially valuable opportunities for change, what is required is primarily an environment in which freedom of entry into newly discovered opportunities is not obstructed, either by concern to protect those with vested interests in older ways of doing things or by a social attitude toward pure entrepreneurial gain that condemns it as somehow unjustly exploited from honest toilers or defenceless consumers.

DBx: The truth of this observation about the reliance of economic growth upon open-ended, “permissionless” innovation and economic experimentation is undeniable. Or, rather, it is undeniable by anyone who understands that supernatural powers are denied to human beings – denied even to human beings vested with state-sanctioned coercive powers. (Despite the contrary widespread, if implicit, assumption, “state-sanctioned coercive” is not a term synonymous with “supernatural.”)

The truth of this observation by Kirzner, however, is denied by all who wish to use tariffs, subsidies, and other ‘tools’ of industrial policy to promote economic growth. Their very advocacy of promoting economic growth by replacing open competition with the power and discretion of government officials to decide which particular firms are to be protected from having to adjust to change and which particular jobs will be protected from being replaced by other jobs is premised on the belief that these government officials can foresee the future in great detail and can (and will) control it intelligently for the greater good as it unfolds. If this belief is not one that holds that government officials possess supernatural powers, please offer a better description of this belief.