The Seen vs. The Unseen
"The heart of the case against the Detroit bailout is that it saps the life-blood of entrepreneurial capitalism. The bailout reinforces the debilitating precedent of protecting firms deemed ‘too big to fail.’ Capital and other resources are thus kept glued by politics to familiar lines of production, thus impeding entrepreneurial initiative that would have otherwise redeployed these resources into newer, more-dynamic, and more productive industries.
The ‘success’ of the bailout is all too easy to engineer and to see. The cost of the bailout – the industries, the jobs, and the outputs that are never created – is impossible to see, but nevertheless real."
~Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek responding to Paul Ingrassia's defense of the auto bailout in yesterday's WSJ ("Two Cheers for the Detroit Bailout").
See also "What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen" by Bastiat who wrote in 1848: "There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.
Yet this difference is tremendous; for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the later consequences are disastrous, and vice versa. Whence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, while the good economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil."