… is from pages 413-414 of the 5th edition (2015) of Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics:
In short, while externalities are a serious consideration in determining the role of government, they do not simply provide a blanket justification or a magic word which automatically allows economics to be ignored and politically attractive goals to be pursued without further ado. Both the incentives of the market and the incentives of politics must be weighed when choosing between them on any particular issue.
DBx: When you encounter arguments that Covid-19 justifies continued, massive government obstruction of ordinary life and human interaction, look for evidence that those persons who offer these arguments are aware that government officials might have perverse incentives. Look for evidence that pro-lockdowners or pro-obstructionists understand that government officials aren’t perfectly informed angels. Look for evidence that those people who assert that Covid justifies today’s unprecedented proscriptions and prescriptions by the state know that the state is not a divine institution but, rather, a human one operated by men and women who are motivated by an unusually intense desire for power.
I myself am always on the lookout for such evidence among the pro-lockdowners and pro-obstructionists. So far I’ve found almost none.