Bonus Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on December 1, 2020

in Philosophy of Freedom

… is from page 111 of University of Glasgow Senior Lecturer Craig Smith’s 2020 book, Adam Smith:

Exchanges are mutually beneficial and voluntary: we exchange because we are able to supply our needs by serving the needs of others.

DBx: What could be more civilized, more humane, more sociable, more egalitarian? ‘We are able to supply our needs by serving the needs of others.’ This reality is at the heart of free markets.

And what do statists offer as an alternative? Answer: Coercion. Always coercion.

The recipe followed by statists of all ideological stripes is this: ‘We supply our needs by compelling others to do as we command – by threatening to cage them if they refuse our orders. Of course, we deploy our coercive threats for the greater good; by “our needs” we obviously mean the benefit of our fellow human beings, or at least our fellow citizens, including the benefit of those whom we coerce. Our intentions are soaring and lovely. And so if you oppose us, your intentions must be foul. It’s really quite simple.’

You can trust in the widespread use of coercion and its threat, or you can trust in mutual agreement and voluntary interactions, including (but not limited to) commercial exchange. If you think the person who gets to threaten you at gunpoint is more likely to take your interest into account than is the person who can gain your cooperation only by enticing you to agree with him or her, you are – let me describe you as nicely as possible – foolish.

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