≡ Menu

Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 181 of W.H. Hutt’s paper “The Factory System of the Early Nineteenth Century,” which is Chapter 5 of F.A. Hayek’s 1954 edited collection, Capitalism and the Historians:

That the apparent benefits wrought by the early Factory Acts are largely illusory is suggested by the steady improvement which was undoubtedly taking place before 1833, partly as a result of the development of the factory system itself. All authorities, it is believed, admit that conditions were at their worst where domestic work prevailed and in the smaller factories and workshops, and there was a constant tendency for these to be eliminated through the competition of the larger and more up-to-date establishments.

DBx: Market competition was striking the unavoidable tradeoff, at the margin, between improved work conditions and higher wages for workers in ways that satisfied workers. Market competition was not striking this unavoidable tradeoff in ways that satisfied the bulk of intellectuals, artists, and the landed gentry. And then as now, intellectuals, artists, and other outside observers arrogantly supposed that their knowledge is sufficiently full, and that their preferences are so obviously ‘correct,’ that their preferences should be imposed on the masses by state intervention.