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?
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? 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?
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
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
We were created to live in community. Or, if you prefer, we evolved to live in community. Same deal. Let’s take the latter first. Major anthropologists have studied just what advantages we homo sapiens had in order to come out on top (arrogantly assuming this is the top). Some say it was our upright gait… Continue reading Economy vs Community
We live in a bizarre world where we believe in libertarian free-market ideology, while we let the corporate sector practice socialism. Yet we don’t admit to either of them. “Wait”, you say. “I’m no libertarian. I believe in public parklands, and city street cleaning, and municipal firefighters and all kinds of other public services. The… Continue reading Corporate Libertarian Socialism
Sometimes it seems like everything is the exact opposite of what it claims to be. Take capitalism. It claims to be a decentralized Invisible Hand of free competition — ensuring that all economic abuses are reined in by the discipline of competition so that nobody is able to exploit anyone else. In practice, it is… Continue reading Bitcoin — Not As Advertised
Back when I taught Economics to gullible undergrads, and to even more gullible grad students, I posed a conundrum. (I couldn’t push it too hard for fear of heresy.) But it’s actually not that difficult if put in straightforward terms, so those who have not been afflicted with Economics courses should bear with me. It… Continue reading A Bizarre Theory That All Economists Believe
There are so many issues around poverty, but the spiritual issue is largely ignored in our consumption-worshipping culture. We’re all supposed to be medium-poor in our frugality of spirit, as we renounce the excesses of empty affluence. Instead we glut ourselves on all the commodities we can wring out of the market, and we ignore… Continue reading Preference for the Poor