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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 241 of Deirdre McCloskey’s 2024 paper “Market Prices and Wages Do Not Reflect Ethical Value,” which is chapter 19 in The War on Prices: How Popular Misconceptions About Inflation, Prices, and Value Create Bad Policy (Ryan A. Bourne, ed., 2024):

Trades, in economic jargon, are positive sum. Violent coercion, by contrast – such as private hired thugs or public tax gatherers extracting goods from one person to give to another – yields one person a gain and the other person a loss. It’s zero or even negative sum.

DBx: There might be justification for a number of government activities. But the reality identified here by Deirdre should create a strong, if rebuttable, presumption against any such activity. Proposed government actions should have to satisfy a weighty burden of persuasion before being approved. The mere social-engineering fancies of pundits, professors, preachers, and politicians satisfy no such burden even if the verbal or written descriptions of their imagined utopias are sublime.

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