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F.A. Hayek speaking about the works of Frederic Bastiat (read this!):

This is simply that if we judge measures of economic policy solely by their immediate and concretely foreseeable effects, we shall not only not achieve a viable order but shall be certain progressively to extinguish freedom and thereby prevent more good than our measures will produce.  Freedom is important in order that all the different individuals can make full use of the particular circumstances of which only they know.  We therefore never know what beneficial actions we prevent if we restrict their freedom to serve their fellows in whatever manner they wish.  All acts of interference, however, amount to such restrictions.  They are of course, always undertaken to achieve some definite objective.  Against the foreseen direct results of such actions of government we shall in each individual case be able to balance only the mere probability that some unknown but beneficial actions by some individuals will be prevented.  In consequence, if such decisions are made from case to case and not governed by an attachment to freedom as a general principle, freedom is bound to lose in almost every case.  Bastiat was indeed right in treating freedom of choice as a moral principle that must never be sacrificed to considerations of expediency; because there is perhaps no aspect of freedom that would not be abolished if it were to be respected only where the concrete damage caused by its abolition can be pointed out. 

  1. April 16, 2014 at 10:58 am

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