So, there is this guy, Roy, a middle-aged machinist of above-average intelligence whom I befriended at the coffee shop.

We’ve discussed economics to some extent, and, though I tried to hint on the idea that the reasons for our economic maladies are not free market but rather government interventionism, especially government and the Fed’s control over money supply, messed-up incentives, overregulation, and like deviations from laissez-faire, he persisted in denouncing “greed,” fraud on the part of corporations, lying and corrupt business executives, and so on. He thought exactly the way Mises described: the rich got their money in underhanded ways, but he, Roy, was too moral and upright to do the same; the reason he enjoyed only modest income was that his moral scruples did not permit him to rob other people.

If that were all, then it would scarcely be interesting. But, hoping to see an improvement in Roy’s thinking, I gave him a copy of Mises’ Anticapitalistic Mentality. It’s a short work and probably the easiest of Mises’ contributions to science. Since he read it, he underwent a remarkable change. No longer did he claim to be morally superior to his more successful fellows. He said to me: “If I could rob people, I surely would; I just don’t have the balls.” He was now as allegedly evil as the rich are; but unfortunately too cowardly and stupid to be able to commit similar crimes. Roy has become malicious, stupid, and weak.

It seems that knowledge can corrupt as well as enlighten.

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