About This Blog

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was the greatest economist of my time. His greatest works can be accessed here at no charge.

Mises believed that property, freedom and peace are and should be the hallmarks of a satisfying and prosperous society. I agree. Mises proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the prospect for general and individual prosperity is maximized, indeed, is only possible, if the principle of private property reigns supreme. What's yours is yours. What's mine is mine. When the line between yours and mine is smudged, the door to conflict opens. Without freedom (individual liberty of action) the principle of private property is neutered and the free market, which is the child of property and freedom and the mother of prosperity and satisfaction, cannot exist. Peace is the goal of a prosperous and satisfying society of free individuals, not peace which is purchased by submission to the enemies of property and freedom, but peace which results from the unyielding defense of these principles against all who challenge them.

In this blog I measure American society against the metrics of property, freedom and peace.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Individual Liberty Writ Large

Every individual in this nation makes at least one trade each day. We trade our labor for money wages. We pay the neighbor kid money to cut our lawn. We trade money for a newspaper or a cup of coffee. Nobody believes that such individual trades require the government to step between the two traders and regulate them. In these simple voluntary exchanges it is perfectly clear that both parties always benefit. Which begs the question: Why does the government intervene in the economy? If both parties always benefit in a voluntary trade and, if all trades are voluntary, wouldn't every individual in the nation benefit? Why is government needed?

If two individuals can voluntarily exchange goods and services without government intervention, why can't an entire nation of individuals exchange goods and services without government intervention?

When two individuals voluntarily make a trade they perform their own due diligence. They examine the pros and cons of making the trade. Each subjectively decides whether the goods or services they're trading for are more valuable to them than the goods or services they are giving up. These are decisions individuals are able to make without the help or mandate of a government bureaucrat. Why then do we have government bureaucrats and politicians intervening between individual traders.

Why must governments demand that certain medicines can only be purchased with the approval of a licensed physician? Why must the government specify how certain goods and services are manufactured and sold?

A bureaucrat might answer: There are crooks out there intent on defrauding you. We're needed to protect your interests.

This is hogwash. In most trades individuals can decide for themselves whether or not their prospective trading partner is honest. If he has doubts, he can hire an attorney, or consult Consumer Reports, or talk to his friends. Why does the bureaucrat insert himself into our business even when he is not needed or is not asked to do so?

The bureaucrat might say: When one of the trading partners is a huge and powerful corporation, we must insert ourselves into the transaction to protect the little guy?

Really? What power does a huge corporation have over an individual in a free and voluntary society? If I feel I am being taken advantage of by a huge corporation, I am free to walk away from the deal.

But huge corporations may conspire to monopolize markets, giving consumers no choice but to trade with them and pay exorbitant prices. Or corporations might price gouge during times of severe shortages of certain commodities.

These are bogus arguments as well. In a free and voluntary market alternatives always exist, or I can always do without. Let's imagine a huge corporation were to develop a drug that allowed people to live forever. The corporation keeps the formula secret, keeping others from producing the drug. It puts an incredibly high price on the drug. Should the government step in and demand the corporation lower the price of the drug to make it affordable and available for all?

How you answer this question will indicate whether or not you truly believe in property, freedom and peace.


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