Thursday, January 23, 2014

Economic wisdom from a non-economist

Today's WSJ highlights a passage from Andrew Ferguson's superb essay in The Weekly Standard regarding the unimpeachable wisdom of John Cowperthwaite, Hong Kong's financial secretary from 1961 to 1971, who generated an economic boom by doing as little as possible. Here's a choice excerpt, but be sure to read the whole thing—and don't miss the part about how we would all be better off with fewer government-collected economic statistics.

... how the world works: If you tax something you get less of it; as a general rule an individual manages his own affairs better than his neighbor can; it’s rude to be bossy; the number of problems that resolve themselves if only you wait long enough is far larger than the number of problems solved by mucking around in them. And the cure is often worse than the disease: In the long run, the aggregate of the decisions of individual businessmen, exercising individual judgment in a free economy, even if often mistaken, is likely to do less harm than the centralized decisions of a Government; and certainly the harm is likely to be counteracted faster.

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