Did Gingrich Really Say “We do not want people to succeed by superior chicanery, by more clever deceit, by greater unscrupulousness, by superior ruthlessness.”

No actually he didn’t. This is a quote from the great defender and advocate of free markets Henry Hazlitt. So when Gingrich says that Romney should be held to account for his behavior, I believe this is strongly a pro free-market attack. Conservatives believe laws (limited and consistent) are important to the proper functioning of free markets. As Hazlitt points out:

“Therefore our laws must do everything possible to close these avenues to success and to create conditions under which people can succeed only by superior zeal and ability in serving their fellows. (This is precisely what we seek from capitalism) It provides them with a system of rewards in proportion to their output—in other words, in proportion to their success in satisfying the consumer. Under this system they must compete for the consumer’s favor.”

Also as conservatives, we know:

“laws won’t be enough, however good. If the people were so corrupt that they were constantly trying to evade the law, and if the police and judges and government were so corrupt that they made no impartial effort to the law, then even an ideal set of laws would be futile…. No, the majority of individuals must be moral. The society must live by a moral code. The individual enterpriser or trader or workman must not only fear the police, or private retaliation; he must himself believe in honest dealing, in fairness, in justice, in truthfulness, in honor…. Perhaps the greatest vice of the communist system, worse even than its failure to produce goods, was that it destroyed all sense of justice and truth, and made its only ‘morality’ consist in absolute obedience to the commands of the dictator…. But individual freedom is impossible without individual responsibility.”

“In other words, despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot.”

Gingrich in his attack on Romney’s Bain Capital is asking a very simple question: “Did Romney engage in “honest dealing, in fairness, in justice, in truthfulness, in honor” in his business dealings?

Was Romney acting in the best interest of consumers? Or was he simply making profits by “superior chicanery, by more clever deceit, by greater unscrupulousness, by superior ruthlessness.”?

These are fair questions to ask even if we are uncomfortable with the method of attack.

Hazlitt quotes from:
Hazlitt, Henry (2010-03-31). Time Will Run Back (LvMI) (Kindle Locations 3823-3828). Ludwig von Mises Institute. Kindle Edition.