Markets

And finally, on wealth:

Does [a] man have the right to purse happiness through amassing his own wealth with no care for those less fortunate?

Yes. And in fact, you consistently miss the important fact that his pursuit of profit through the free market is a direct benefit to “those less fortunate.” Fortune — chance — has an impact. Some people are born with disadvantages and disabilities; I’ve acquired some only lately. But I retain certain advantages, at least for the moment, of which important ones are family support (an area that is the target of many leftists) and the ability to type (which I’d lost for a while).

What I am allowed to type is now being considered by the FCC as a subject for regulation. A separate topic…

We each have different talents and native abilities. But determination and inspiration are very significant as well, in determining whether one can be good at “amassing his own wealth” or accomplishing other goals in the world. And such pursuits absolutely are basic human rights. Moreover, where Pope Francis goes horribly wrong is assuming, as you have done, that the free market is harmful to others, or that accumulation of wealth — the code phrase is “income inequality,’ is inherently harmful, as though “wealth” were a fixed commodity and can only arise by being taken from others. This is simply untrue.

So long as the market is free and operates without coercion, both sides benefit from the transaction, both come away from the exchange happier, and the man bent on “amassing his own wealth” in the free market must be constantly thinking of how to please his fellow human beings, by creating and improving products or services that his fellows will voluntarily exchange some of their own wealth for. This effect, not the Church, has reduced poverty for billions, and has a most impressive track record.

It is not the same as large business entities who exchange favors with governments to obtain unfair advantages in trade for election support. Such crony capitalism is not at all a free market, and here you and I and Pope Francis would agree that this is an evil to be combated. But he proposes going about it in the entirely wrong way — understandable considering his anti-capitalist advisors and background.

Crony capitalism comes about naturally when government regulates markets. In so doing, they are in a position of regulating in a particular way that can help one enterprise against its competitors, or even eliminate its competitors. (Historically, all monopolies have been government-created.) The differential regulation gives government members something to sell — and they prosper by corrupting the free market.

To the extent that you reduce or eliminate government’s ability to interfere with business, you cut the incentives that lead to the corruption. With nothing to sell to such entities, politicians lose their “cronies” and the incentives are realigned with a free (and thus without coercion and automatically fair) market.

Our founders understood this; they proposed to regulate only commerce between states, to have a federal court act as an arbiter when there were multiple state authorities involved in a dispute. That limited role has been long since abandoned, and I am strongly in favor of restoring it, limitations and all.

Added, from John Cox’s site:

Free Market and Liberty

And a good representation of what a free market entails:
Free Market Characteristics

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  • I concur with both of your paragraphs. It’s interesting how leftists see the free market as evil while they champion the system that has literally starved millions to miserable deaths.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  • JeffR

    To the ring of circles characterizing a free market, I would add “Free to Fail, Unassisted”. Without that, some of the other free market liberties are more attackable by leftists, such as “Free to Set Prices” and “Free to Create Capital Formation.”

    That ring of free-market liberties would make a good outline for a series of articles by a economically-literate writer, since some (or perhaps all) of them have caveats and pitfalls. Each one deserves an elaboration to bolster it against the practiced rhetoric of the left. For example, “Free to Compete” is the concept that leftists twist in order to claim the economy is a fixed size (zero sum game), and that for someone to gain, there must be a loser. “Compete” is a dirty word to the left, as if it literally means stealing food from another’s plate.

    Cheers,
    – Jeff

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