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Thought for the day

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From The Road To Serfdom, by F. A. Hayek, 1944, Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, 1994, The University of Chicago Press.

The "social goal" or "common purpose," for which society is to be organized is usually vaguely described as the "common good," the "general welfare," or the "general interest." It does not need much reflection to see that these terms have no sufficiently definite meaning to determine a particular course of action. The welfare and the happiness of millions cannot be measured on the single scale of less and more. The welfare of a people, like the happiness of a man, depends on a great many things that can be provided in an infinite number of combinations. It cannot be adequately expressed as a single end, but only as a hierarchy of ends, a comprehensive scale of values in which every need of every person is given its place.

Excerpted under Fair Use for purposes of non-commercial education, discussion and comment. Any transcription or typographical errors are mine.