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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 150 of a 2002 Postscript added by Robert Higgs to his Winter 2001 Independent Review article, “Unmitigated Mercantilism,” as this article is reprinted and slightly revised in the superb 2004 collection of some of Bob’s essays, Against Leviathan (footnotes deleted):

Meanwhile, over at the agency [the U.S. Export-Import Bank], a new man took the helm as chairman and president: John E. Robson, an establishmentarian extraordinaire who had previously occupied high-level positions as deputy secretary of the Treasury in the earlier Bush administration, president and CEO of drug giant G.D. Searle & Co., dean of the business school at Emory University, and senior advisor with the investment banking firm of Robertson Stephens out of San Francisco.

Notwithstanding his impressive curriculum vitae, Robson spouted the same sort of economic claptrap his predecessor had routinely dished out: “we play the role of the ‘first Marines’ to hit the beach for U.S. companies in riskier emerging markets,” he wrote in the agency’s financial report for fiscal 2001. “We go where the commercial lenders won’t. We lead the way into new markets. We take risks that the private sector won’t. And we step in where the competition is toughest for U.S. exporters facing competition backed by foreign governments.” Brave words, but anyone can be brave when somebody else’s resources – in this case, the taxpayers’ – are being put at risk. It’s fascinating how a government bureaucrat can make wasting the public’s money sound like a glorious undertaking.

DBx: Bob Higgs is one of my dearest friends, and he remains a scholar among scholars. Please join me in wishing him, on this day, a very happy 80th birthday.

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