Few defenders of free markets, not even the oft-maligned Ayn Rand, can be read as defending greed. In fact, if greed or selfishness is understood as exploiting others, then greed is impossible in a system of voluntary exchange.
Students don’t learn enough economics, neither as a subject nor as a way of thinking across the curriculum. AIER was proud to co-sponsor and partner on an event last week with two organizations working to change that fact: the Foundation for Teaching Economics (FTE), and the Economic Education Center at Lindenwood University’s School of Education in St. Charles, Missouri.
"Without entirely knowing what we were doing, that in the course of a few decades, we replaced a view of the human project that was inspired by choice, personal ambition, and individual achievement with a completely different view that insists that aspiration is utterly pointless and probably even dangerous." ~ Jeffrey Tucker
Long before governments entered the disaster scene, private citizens and entities took responsibility whenever they saw their fellow residents in trouble, oftentimes putting their own safety at risk to help save lives.
When done well, economics regularly reveals that that which appears to the popular mind to be undeniably true is often a mirage, or at least highly questionable. No service performed by economists is as important as this one.
Collectivism left horrifying stains on the 20th century. With the new technologies of supervision and control now available, the dominance of collectivist beliefs in the new century would be outright devastating. It is time to ban the curse of collectivism. We need an individualist turn in philosophy and politics and must abandon the mystical beliefs in false abstractions. To this end, Max Stirner is the indispensable guide.
“Voluntary collective action” should be our motto. This obviously includes markets, to be sure. But there is no reason to cede the vitality, attractiveness, and exuberance of the non-profit independent sector to ownership by the state. Voluntary private organizations belong to everyone.
It is not serious thought to go around simply demanding that everything be free. That demand solves no problem that has occupied the world of economics for a thousand years. Try to implement it and someone, everyone, is going to pay – long lines, impossible high taxes, hyperinflation, material deprivation – and not through choice.
While there are imperfections in today’s economy in general and its system of corporate governance in particular, these are nowhere as extensive and threatening as Sen. Warren thinks them to be. And these imperfections are certainly not so serious as to justify any militant and wholesale restructuring of corporate law of the sort that Sen. Warren — with her mix of extraordinary arrogance, ignorance, and recklessness — proposes.
When things don’t go our way, when institutions produce outcomes we find contrary to our conception of what should be, we seek out the culprit, the hidden hand making things as they are. Surely some powerful cabal manipulated the world to take the shape that it does. Nothing is random, spontaneous, truly decentralized, accidental, or the product of an emergent process that no one in particular controls. There is a power behind some curtain somewhere. The purpose of the conspiracy theory is to find it and bring it to justice.
The alarmists’ real concern is not the growth of population; it’s prosperity. Their concern is that the resources of the earth will be used up, and that humanity has to prepare by becoming fewer and poorer. But all the evidence points in the opposite direction.