… is from page 327 of Randy Simmons’s 2011 Revised Edition of his and the late William Mitchell’s 1994 volume, Beyond Politics, which is an excellent primer on public-choice scholarship and research:
One of the more impressive accomplishments of the Western world was developing, recognizing, and defending contracts. This was impressive because contractual relationships replaced those relationships conditioned by status. Contracts allow for dynamism and change while status maintains stagnant and traditional societies.
DBx: Yes. Freedom of contract – which of course includes the power to say ‘no’ – breaks the bonds of status. In a society with freedom of contract, each individual has vastly more scope to craft his or her life as he or she sees fit, unencumbered by status and hierarchy, and is much better able to challenge tradition.
Yet progressives as well as populists are forever proposing policies to reward or punish people according to status. Affirmative action for blacks! Protective tariffs for steel workers! Confiscatory taxation of rich people! Subsidies for farmers! Punish firms that hire undocumented immigrants!
It all violates freedom of contract. And it’s all so primitive.