Cooperation Through Competition?

It goes back to the old Invisible Hand theory. Adam Smith claimed that competition in the marketplace would force producers to produce only what people want (so they can sell it). They would also produce at the lowest possible cost without undue profit to keep prices down (so competitors can’t steal their customers). These are… Continue reading Cooperation Through Competition?

The Market and Moral Accountability

Is it morally acceptable for any individual to “look out for number one” in the marketplace — seeking maximum personal benefit at the expense of others? You might say ”no” but an economist will likely say “yes”. Why? Because economists have this theory that, if the economy is truly competitive, there’s nothing you can possibly… Continue reading The Market and Moral Accountability

When Does Trade Become Extortion?

When does trade become extortion? Economists say never, at least in principle. Free trade is a voluntary exchange between two parties who both stand to gain from the trade. Where’s the extortion? Let’s consider a criminal transaction in the airport of some backwoods country. A customs agent says you have to pay him a thousand… Continue reading When Does Trade Become Extortion?

Is Consumerism a Mental Illness?

Is consumerism a mental illness? Well, that depends on what it means to be mentally healthy. A paper from the World Psychiatric Association defines mental health as a state of internal and external equilibrium that produces a feeling of personal well-being. Let’s look at those pieces. Internal equilibrium is a matter of finding a satisfactory balance… Continue reading Is Consumerism a Mental Illness?

Bait and Switch

My complaint isn’t with the market. Try running a complex society without trade or money. My complaint is how so many never practice what they preach. It’s a matter of bait and switch. That means promising something good but delivering something else. Economists are masters of bait and switch. The bait of utopian capitalism is… Continue reading Bait and Switch

Stop the Machine

There’s no such thing as free markets. Never has been. Never will be. The Invisible Hand is a figment of economists’ imagination. Sure there’s a hand — on the levers of power — but it’s only invisible because the private sector doesn’t allow for transparency. There’s no such thing as non-socialism. There’s no country that’s… Continue reading Stop the Machine