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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 170 of Samuel Gregg’s excellent 2022 book, The Next American Economy: Nation, State, and Markets in an Uncertain World:

But those living in a society in which economic security is generally prioritized over liberty, and where the state is considered the primary institution responsible for securing such security, are more likely to trade off various economic liberties in return for economic security via the government – the long-term price being gradual stagnation.

DBx: Yes.

Skeptics and opponents of free markets never tire of hurling the accusation that markets are myopic – with each such accusation tied to the supposed implication that government officials take a longer-run view. Both the accusation and its supposed implication are nonsense.

A great deal of government intervention is aimed at increasing the public’s satisfaction today with little or no regard for the consequences of these interventions tomorrow. The political impulse is to protect today’s jobs despite the consequent negative impact on creating better jobs tomorrow. It is to keep inflation going for another day despite the accumulating damage that cannot avoid being paid tomorrow. It is to use antitrust to break-up or otherwise obstruct successful firms today despite the resulting negative impact on industrial structures and practices tomorrow. It is to fund spending today with debt that must be repaid tomorrow.

I’m tempted to say that governments are like alcoholics who drown themselves with booze tonight in reckless disregard of the price they’ll pay in the morning. But this analogy isn’t quite correct because what’s really going on is that today’s boozy high is enjoyed by politicians and interest groups while the appalling hangover tomorrow is suffered by the masses. If I can drink all I want this evening knowing that the resulting hangover will be suffered, not by me, but by strangers – and, further, by strangers who are unlikely to hold me accountable for their nausea and headaches – then pour me another, and keep ’em coming!