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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 4 of the 2006 Liberty Fund edition of Ludwig von Mises’s 1956 volume, The Anti-capitalistic Mentality (available free-of-charge on-line here):

It is quite customary to liken the entrepreneurs and capitalists of the market economy to the aristocrats of a status society. The basis of the comparison is the relative riches of both groups as against the relatively straitened conditions of the rest of their fellow men. However, in resorting to this metaphor, one fails to realize the fundamental difference between aristocratic riches and “bourgeois” or capitalistic riches.

The wealth of an aristocrat is not a market phenomenon; it does not originate from supplying the consumers and cannot be withdrawn or even affected by any action on the part of the public. It stems from conquest or from largess on the part of a conqueror. It may come to an end through revocation on the part of the donor or through violent eviction on the part of another conqueror, or it may be dissipated by extravagance. The feudal lord does not serve consumers and is immune to the displeasure of the populace.

The entrepreneurs and capitalists owe their wealth to the people who patronize their businesses. They lose it inevitably as soon as other men supplant them in serving the consumers better or cheaper.