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Henry Hazlitt quotes (showing 1-30 of 31)

“A man with a scant vocabulary will almost certainly be a weak thinker. The richer and more copious one's vocabulary and the greater one's awareness of fine distinctions and subtle nuances of meaning, the more fertile and precise is likely to be one's thinking. Knowledge of things and knowledge of the words for them grow together. If you do not know the words, you can hardly know the thing.”
Henry Hazlitt, Thinking as a Science
“When Alexander the Great visited the philosopher Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for him, Diogenes is said to have replied: ‘Yes, stand a little less between me and the sun.’ It is what every citizen is entitled to ask of his government.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“The 'private sector' of the economy is, in fact, the voluntary sector; and the 'public sector' is, in fact, the coercive sector.”
Henry Hazlitt
“When the government makes loans or subsidies to business, what it does is to tax successful private business in order to support unsuccessful private business.”
Henry Hazlitt
“The only way we could remember would be by constant re-reading, for knowledge unused tends to drop out of mind. Knowledge used does not need to be remembered; practice forms habits and habits make memory unnecessary. The rule is nothing; the application is everything.”
Henry Hazlitt, Thinking as a Science
“A man who is good from docility, and not from stern self-control, has no character.”
Henry Hazlitt
“This is perhaps as good a place as any to point out that what distinguishes many reformers from those who cannot accept their proposals is not their greater philanthropy, but their greater impatience. The question is not whether we wish to see everybody as well off as possible. Among men of good will such an aim can be taken for granted. The real question concerns the proper means of achieving it. And in trying to answer this we must never lose sight of a few elementary truisms. We cannot distribute more wealth than is created. We cannot in the long run pay labor as a whole more than it produces.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“Practically all government attempts to redistribute wealth and income tend to smother productive incentives and lead toward general impoverishment. It is the proper sphere of government to create and enforce a framework of law that prohibits force and fraud. But it must refrain from specific economic interventions. Government's main economic function is to encourage and preserve a free market. When Alexander the Great visited the philosopher Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for him, Diogenes is said to have replied: "Yes, stand a little less between me and the sun." It is what every citizen is entitled to ask of his government.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“The whole gospel of Karl Marx can be summed up in a single sentence: Hate the man who is better off than you are. Never under any circumstances admit that his success may be due to his own efforts, to the productive contribution he has made to the whole community. Always attribute his success to the exploitation, the cheating, the more or less open robbery of others. Never under any circumstances admit that your own failure may be owing to your own weakness, or that the failure of anyone else may be due to his own defects - his laziness, incompetence, improvidence, or stupidity.”
Henry Hazlitt
“The dilemma is this. In the modern world knowledge has been growing so fast and so enormously, in almost every field, that the probabilities are immensely against anybody, no matter how innately clever, being able to make a contribution in any one field unless he devotes all his time to it for years. If he tries to be the Rounded Universal Man, like Leonardo da Vinci, or to take all knowledge for his province, like Francis Bacon, he is most likely to become a mere dilettante and dabbler. But if he becomes too specialized, he is apt to become narrow and lopsided, ignorant on every subject but his own, and perhaps dull and sterile even on that because he lacks perspective and vision and has missed the cross-fertilization of ideas that can come from knowing something of other subjects.”
Henry Hazlitt
“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”
Henry Hazlitt
“..either immediately or ultimately every dollar of government spending must be raised through a dollar of taxation. Once we look at the matter. In this way, the supposed miracles of government spending will appear in another light.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man. This is no accident. The inherent difficulties of the subject would be great enough in any case, but they are multiplied a thousandfold by a factor that is insignificant in, say, physics, mathematics or medicine - the special pleading of selfish interests.”
Henry Hazlitt
“There are men regarded today as brilliant economists, who deprecate saving and recommend squandering on a national scale as the way of economic salvation; and when anyone points to what the consequences of these policies will be in the long run, they reply flippantly, as might the prodigal son of a warning father: "In the long run we are all dead." And such shallow wisecracks pass as devastating epigrams and the ripest wisdom.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“Everything we get, outside of the free gifts of nature, must in some way be paid for. The world is full of so- called economists who in turn are full of schemes for getting something for nothing. They tell us that the government can spend and spend without taxing at all; that it can continue to pile up debt without ever paying it off, because "we owe it to ourselves.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“the larger the percentage of the national income taken by taxes the greater the deterrent to private production and employment. When the total tax burden grows beyond a bearable size, the problem of devising taxes that will not discourage and disrupt production becomes insoluble.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“ECONOMICS IS HAUNTED by more fallacies than any other study known to man. This is no accident. The inherent difficulties of the subject would be great enough in any case, but they are multiplied a thousandfold by a factor that is insignificant in, say, physics, mathematics or medicine—the special pleading of selfish interests.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“The ideas which now pass for brilliant innovations and advances are in fact mere revivals of ancient errors, and a further proof of the dictum that those who are ignorant of the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“Necessary policemen, firemen, street cleaners, health officers, judges, legislators and executives perform productive services as important as those of anyone in private industry. They make it possible for private industry to function in an atmosphere of law, order, freedom and peace. But their justification consists in the utility of their services. It does not consist in the "purchasing power" they possess by virtue of being on the public payroll.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“For every dollar that is spent on the (boondoggle) bridge a dollar will be taken away from taxpayers. If the bridge costs $1,000,000 the taxpayers will lose $1,000, 000. They will have that much taken away from them which they would otherwise have spent on the things they needed most.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“There is a strange idea abroad, held by all monetary cranks, that credit is something a banker gives to a man. Credit, on the contrary, is something a man already has. He has it, perhaps, because he already has marketable assets of a greater cash value than the loan for which he is asking. Or he has it because his character and past record have earned it. He brings it into the bank with him. That is why the banker makes him the loan. The banker is not giving something for nothing.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“private loans will utilize existing resources and capital far better than government loans. Government loans will waste far more capital and resources than private loans. Government loans, in short, as compared with private loans, will reduce production, not increase it.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man. This is no accident. The inherent difficulties of the subject would be great enough in any case, but they are multiplied a thousandfold by a factor that is insignificant in, say, physics, mathematics or medicine - the special pleading of selfish interests. While every group has certain economic interests identical with those of all groups, every group has also, as we shall see, interests antagonistic to those of all other groups. While certain public policies would in the long run benefit everybody, other policies would benefit one group only at the expense of all other groups. The group that would benefit by such policies, having such a direct interest in them, will argue for them plausibly and persistently. It will hire the best buyable minds to devote their whole time to presenting its case. And it will finally either convince the general public that its case is sound, or so befuddle it that clear thinking on the subject becomes next to impossible.

In addition to these endless pleadings of self-interest, there is a second main factor that spawns new economic fallacies every day. This is the persistent tendency of man to see only the immediate effects of a given policy, or its effects only on a special group, and to neglect to inquire what the long-run effects of that policy will be not only on that special group but on all groups. It is the fallacy of overlooking secondary consequences.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“It is significant that while there is a word "profiteer" to stigmatize those who make allegedly excessive profits, there is no such word as "wageer" - or "losseer.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“Mere inflation-that is, the mere issuance of more money, with the consequence of higher wages and prices-may look like the creation of more demand. But in terms of the actual production and exchange of real things it is not.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“all loans, in the eyes of honest borrowers, must eventually he repaid. All credit is debt. Proposals for an increased volume of credit, therefore, are merely another name for proposals for an increased burden of debt. They would seem considerably less inviting if they were habitually referred to by the second name instead of by the first.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“What is put into the hands of B cannot be put into the hands of A.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“It is often sadly remarked that the bad economists present their errors to the public better than the good economists present their truths. It is often complained that demagogues can be more plausible in putting forward economic nonsense from the platform than the honest men who try to show what is wrong with it. But the basic reason for this ought not to be mysterious. The reason is that the demagogues and bad economists are presenting half-truths. They are speaking only of the immediate effect of a proposed policy or its effect upon a single group. As far as they go they may often be right. In these cases the answer consists in showing that the proposed policy would also have longer and less desirable effects, or that it could benefit one group only at the expense of all other groups. The answer consists in supplementing and correcting the half-truth with the other half. But to consider all the chief effects of a proposed course on everybody often requires a long, complicated, and dull chain of reasoning. Most of the audience finds this chain of reasoning difficult to follow and soon becomes bored and inattentive. The bad economists rationalize this intellectual debility and laziness by assuring the audience that it need not even attempt to follow the reasoning or judge it on its merits because it is only "classicism" or "laissez faire" or "capitalist apologetics" or whatever other term of abuse may happen to strike them as effective.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“need is not demand. Effective economic demand requires not merely need but corresponding purchasing power.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“Everywhere the means is erected into the end, and the end itself is forgotten.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics

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