… is from page 37 of the 2021 35th anniversary edition – being released today – of Steven Rhoads’s excellent 1985 book, The Economist’s View of the World: And the Quest for Well-Being :
We can know how high to set any one objective only if we know what we give up in progress toward other objectives.
DBx: In normal times government officials are poor at recognizing and accounting for the opportunity costs of programs that are popular with the public or with powerful interests groups. But in times when the populace – justifiably or not – is terrified, dealing with the source of the terror becomes the singular goal; all other considerations are either completely ignored or are pushed much too far into the background.
Single-minded pursuit of one good – even when that good is unambiguously one that we’d all wish to have in superabundance were it costless – is deranged .