… is from Charles Davenant‘s 1712 tract Report to the Commissioners for Stating the Publick Accounts of the Kingdom, as quoted on page 97 of Jacob Viner‘s 1937 book, Studies in the Theory of International Trade:
There is nothing weaker, than pretending to offer particular rules how a country may thrive by foreign traffic. Trade must be suffered to take its own course, and will find its own channel.
DBx: Yes. Yet, unfortunately, the world swarms with individuals each under the delusion that he or she, through some miraculous power, has divined that fellow citizens would be more prosperous, secure, happier, and ennobled if the prevailing pattern of investment, production, and consumption differed from what this pattern actually is. And of course each of these prophets itches to use coercion to override fellow citizens‘ investment, production, and consumption choices in order to achieve the resource-allocation pattern that he or she envisions as the proper one – all, of course, for the benefit of the fellow citizens who are to be coerced.
Even more unfortunate is the fact that a great many fellow citizens, enchanted by these prophesies, willingly tolerate the government unleashing such coercion.