… is from page 6 of the 2005 reprint of Harvard economist Frank Taussig’s classic 1888 work, The Tariff History of the United States:
But the United States hardly lag behind in the industrial advance of the present day, and where they do labor under artificial or factitious disadvantages, these cannot endure long or be of great consequence under a system of freedom.
DBx: Freedom to experiment with producing different outputs, with different methods of production, with different organizational forms and contractual arrangements, and with different types of financing – and freedom to trade – all done by producers and consumers spending only their own money is the best path to sustained and widely shared economic growth.
Under what Taussig called “a system of freedom,” mistakes will be made. Wrong paths will be taken. Perfection will be out of reach. But being the results of privately made decisions, these errors, when discovered, will be reversed, thus limiting the damage. And, of course, the only way to ensure against these sorts of errors is to commit one of two errors of far larger magnitude – namely, either (1) turn resource-allocation decisions over to the political process, in which government officials spend the money of other people, who are denied the right to say ‘no’; or (2) attempt to prevent economic change.
It’s interesting that Taussig (pictured here), who was born in St. Louis in 1859, wrote of “the United States” as a plural.