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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 125 of the original edition of Walter Lippmann’s sometimes deeply flawed but profoundly insightful and important 1937 book, The Good Society:

The gradual collectivist has to believe that a mass of special privileges can be distributed among interested groups in such a way as to raise the general standard of life. He has to believe that an elected parliament will distribute its privileges according to some general conception of the public welfare and not according to the pull and push of organized interests. Is this conceivable in a democracy? It is conceivable, of course, under a dictatorship if it be granted that the dictator knows in general and in particular what is for the public welfare. It does not seem likely that an electorate, listening to the babel of special pleadings would be able to detect the universal interest in the particular, except occasionally and by good luck.

DBx: Indeed so.

Why this fundamental reality, which can hardly be denied, is ignored by those who call for greater government control over the economy is a genuine mystery (unless, of course, we simply assume that people readily discard reality if it is believed to obstruct their utopian dreams).

Even if we ignore the fact that democratic decision-making will always be influenced by special-interest groups in ways that lead the government to often act against the public interest, the theoretically ideal democracy that remains nevertheless confronts the challenge of knowing just how to manipulate the particulars in ways that will best promote the public interest over time. We can no more seriously suppose that a congress, parliament, or duma – or any administrative bureaus they create – will have access to such knowledge than we can suppose that a dictator will have access to such knowledge. Whether exercised by a democracy or a dictatorship, the power to allocate resources in order to increase the economic well-being of the masses will work only if a miracle occurs.

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