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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 128 of Razeen Sally’s excellent 2008 book, New Frontiers in Free Trade: Globalization’s Future and Asia’s Rising Role (original emphasis):

General rules of conduct are simple, transparent, nondiscriminatory, and negative: they tell actors what not to do, but otherwise leave them free to do as they wish. They are generally proscriptive, not prescriptive.

DBx: The distinction between rules that prohibit and commands that prescribe is straightforward. Yet the world has in it not a few people who, delighting in their own cleverness, assert that a government that restricts itself to enforcing general rules of conduct (as described here by Sally) wills and determines the detailed outcomes that emerge from individuals’ actions no less than does a government that prescribes in detail how each of its citizens is to behave. The fact that, under both kinds of government, individuals act – combined with the fact that if the government changes the kinds of rules and commands that it enforces, the details of the observed actions change – is taken by these Very Clever minds to mean that everything that occurs is the intended product of government decisions.

These minds are sophomoric.

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