… is from page 74 of the 2016 Mercatus Center re-issue of my late colleague Don Lavoie’s superb 1985 volume National Economic Planning: What Is Left?:
When the neoclassical welfare economist labels a situation a “market failure” in the provision of certain goods, he has to admit that he is suspending judgment on whether government provision of the good would improve circumstances. But if the government cannot be shown to do better, the “failure” is no failure at all.
If state-of-the-world X is imperfect only in comparison with a state of the world that only can be imagined by humans but that cannot practically, and at low-enough cost, be attained in reality, then state-of-the-world X can no more be legitimately labeled “imperfect” than can a healthy athlete be labeled “imperfect” on the grounds that he or she is not immortal.