Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Impudent Importunity of Grand Old Parsimony 

My Dear Noble Lord Pinchpenny (R-GOP),
It may be new to his Grace, but I beg leave to tell him that mere parsimony is not economy. It is separable in theory from it; and in fact it may, or it may not, be a part of economy, according to circumstances. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy. If parsimony were to be considered as one of the kinds of that virtue, there is however another and an higher economy. Economy is a distributive virtue, and consists not in saving but in selection. Parsimony requires no providence, no sagacity, no powers of combination, no comparison, no judgment. Mere instinct, and that not an instinct of the noblest kind, may produce this false economy in perfection. The other economy has larger views. It demands a discriminating judgment, and a firm, sagacious mind. It shuts one door to impudent importunity, only to open another, and a wider, to unpresuming merit.

I have the honour to be, etc.
Edmund Burke


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