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Published September 02, 2011 in Talking Points by Sharon Harris
The enemies of freedom have always maligned the free market. They have perpetuated myths like "dog-eat-dog capitalism," "survival of the fittest," "the law of the jungle." Robber barons. Heartless monopolies. A ruthless Wall Street fleecing a helpless Main Street.
It's time to speak out for the free market and individual liberty.
The great economist Adam Smith wrote that a free society operates as if "an invisible hand" directs people's actions — in such a way as to serve the interest of the whole society.
That invisible hand is a gentle one. A free market is a gentle market. A free society is a gentle society. A cooperative, compassionate, and generous society. An abundant and tolerant society.
David Friedman, in his book The Machinery of Freedom, notes that there are only three ways to get something: (1) by trading, (2) by receiving a gift (from love or friendship), or (3) by force ("do what I want or I'll shoot you"). Honest, peaceful people operate in the first two ways. Criminals and the state operate by force, aggression, coercion.
The gentle invisible hand vs. the visible fist of force.
You want to see dog-eat-dog? Look at the notorious Kelo Supreme Court decision on eminent domain. The government now has the power to seize your home or business and turn it over to other private individuals.
You want to see dog-eat-dog? Look at the billions of dollars that are taken from American taxpayers every year and handed over to well-connected corporate interests.
You want to see dog-eat-dog? Look at an IRS audit.
We don’t have a dog-eat-dog business world; we have a dog-eat-dog government.
In truth, the marketplace has a civilizing, humanizing effect. If honesty didn't exist, the marketplace would invent it, because it's the most successful way to do business. In the free market we see, not a survival of the fittest, but a survival of the kindest. Survival of the most cooperative. Survival of the friendliest. A gentle Darwinism, if you will.
In a free society, the most considerate prosper. As Thomas Sowell says, "Politeness and consideration for others is like investing pennies and getting dollars back." A smile has currency.
There are built-in incentives in the marketplace for service, courtesy, respect. The invisible hand becomes a friendly handshake between cooperating adults. As John Stossel pointed out in his ABC special, "Greed," notice how — when you purchase something at a store — the clerk says, "Thank you," and you say "Thank you" as well? It's a mutually beneficial exchange, and both parties are better off.
The gentle invisible hand vs. the visible fist of government.
Would you rather visit Wal-Mart or the Department of Motor Vehicles? In part two, find out how the Gentle Hand of the Free-Market encourages cooperation while the Visable Fist of the Government does not.