The subsidies and protections that New Zealand governments once doled out so generously to both agricultural and manufacturing interests had consequences. The economic way of thinking enables one to discern these consequences more clearly and to predict the consequences of alternative policies. Doing so will often clarify the origin of the subsidies and protections, at least for anyone who believes that democratic legislators pay attention to the interests that are paying attention to them.
From Paul Heyne’s Are Economists Basically Immoral.
Fantastic phrasing of the issue of rent seeking. I think skeptics like to think the public choice theorists are cynical for assuming that political actors act in their self interest; this quote turns that view on its head.