"Although human spiritual and material achievements have been rooted for time immemorial in human freedom, the current, traditional approach to economic development has tended to pay only lip service to the fundamental role of freedom in development. More often than not, orthodox development strategies resulted -- intentionally or not -- in self-defeating policies that had the effect of hampering people in exercising their free will to own, work, save, invest, trade, innovate, create, and so on. As New York University economic professor William Easterly (2001, p. xii) put it, while busy promoting new remedies (from foreign aid to investment in education and machines) and engineering new schemes (from giving loans conditional on reform to debt relief), the development community has too often 'peddled formulas that violated the basic principles of economics in practical policy work.' The problem was not the failure of economics, but the failure to apply the basic principles of economics in a consistent manner, starting with the key role of freedom as the ultimate incentive for people to lead lives that they value."
--- Jean-Pierre Chauffour, The Power of Freedom: Uniting Development and Human Rights (Cato Institute, 2009), p. 2, emphasis added.
I am always struck by how by simply getting policies that would align with basic principles of economics, the lives of billions would be improved, and yet it seems so difficult to eliminate those policies in operation which violate the basic principles and have so obviously failed.
Besides Chauffour's book, the monograph by Richard Epstein, Free Markets Under Seige lays out the case for "picking the low hanging fruit" in public policy brilliantly. But somehow our arms are too short to even grab those fruits within our current political climate. We teachers of economics need to do a better job of communicating to not only our scientific peers and students in our classes, but to public policy decision-makers, and the general public.