The Presumption in Favor of Any Belief Generally Entertained is Especially Weak in the Case of a Theory which Enlists the Support of Powerful Special Interests

It should be remembered, however, that the presumption in favour of any belief generally entertained has existed in favour of many beliefs now known to be entirely erroneous, and is especially weak in the case of a theory which, like that of protection, enlists the support of powerful special interests. The history of mankind everywhere shows the power that special interests, capable of organization and action, may exert in securing the acceptance of the most monstrous doctrines. We have, indeed, only to look around us to see how easily a small special interest may exert greater influence in forming opinion and making laws than a large general interest. As what is everybody’s business is nobody’s business, so what is everybody’s interest is nobody’s interest. Two or three citizens of a seaside town see that the building of a custom-house or the dredging of a creek will put money in their pockets; a few silver miners conclude that it will be a good thing for them to have the government stow away some millions of silver every month; a navy contractor wants the profit of repairing useless iron-clads or building needless cruisers, and again and again such petty interests have their way against the larger interests of the whole people.
— Henry George, Protection or Free Trade