For when it comes to civil servants, there is no halfway house: if they are not very useful indeed, they are harmful; if they do not uphold the freedom of citizens, they stifle it.
This second part of the speech focuses mainly on the fiscal doctrine of the country and its flaws as well as what it ought to be.
Today’s quote reverts back to a theme already touched upon concerning the power of public offices. To the extent that public action is not driven by the sale of a service to the consumer who expresses his need by paying for the said service at its market price, there is a higher risk of making a mistake. Indeed, one of the essential features of market exchange is that whenever a service does not match demand, its provider records a loss, which ultimately drives him out of that particular market (not by certain death but by a shift of his production towards other services). This mechanism being non existent for public action, whoever produces a useless service is using ressources that others could well use usefully. Even worse – when the public function is bureaucratic, it can only refrain others from doing anything different from what the bureaucracy has decided – if it is not useful, it is necessarily harmful through the simple fact that it refrains others to do what they wish. The reason for that is simply that the opposite of liberty is oppression.
Other quotes from the Speech on the Tax on Wines and Spirits:
Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3