We Need to Step Up Our Defense of the Free Market

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We Need to Step Up Our Defense of the Free Market

There is a philo­sophic bat­tle royal, or even a metaphoric civil war, rag­ing in this coun­try. On one side are those who embrace free mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism, the eco­nomic sys­tem that built the United States into the freest and most pros­per­ous nation. The other side is stead­fastly try­ing to trans­form this nation into a Demo­c­ra­tic Social­ist nation, which will only result in eco­nomic ruin and an oppres­sive cen­tral­ized gov­ern­ment, which will become total­i­tar­ian over time.

Here is how our great national strug­gle is described in this Amer­i­can Thinker arti­cle

With Bernie Sanders and Alexan­dria Ocasio-​Cortez com­ing out of the shad­ows and being described as the future of the Demo­c­ra­tic Party, the fight card has been set: social­ism ver­sus free-​market cap­i­tal­ism. Social­ism ver­sus con­sti­tu­tional repub­li­can­ism. Social­ism (author­i­tar­i­an­ism) ver­sus self-​rule. In short, bondage ver­sus freedom.

All of the defend­ers of free mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism have a much more dif­fi­cult mes­sage to sell. In order for the free mar­ket to work prop­erly all of us have to pro­duce some­thing worth buy­ing, either a ser­vice or a good. No one gets a free ride. It is much eas­ier to seduce the unin­formed with cries of free stuff for every­one. It has got­ten to the point where almost our entire edu­ca­tional sys­tem, our news broad­cast­ers, and our enter­tain­ment indus­try are bash­ing the free mar­ket with neg­a­tive dis­tor­tions and erro­neously prais­ing social­ism. We need to work extra hard to get our facts and argu­ments right and to trans­mit them to every­one as effec­tively as pos­si­ble. Here are some of the more impact­ful facts and argu­ments I have encountered.

Here is a quote by Mil­ton Fried­man from chap­ter 1 of The Rela­tion Between Eco­nomic Free­dom and Polit­i­cal Freedom.

Because we live in a largely free soci­ety, we tend to for­get how lim­ited is the span of time and the part of the globe for which there has ever been any­thing like polit­i­cal free­dom: the typ­i­cal state of mankind is tyranny, servi­tude, and mis­ery. The nine­teenth cen­tury and early twen­ti­eth cen­tury in the West­ern world stand out as strik­ing excep­tions to the gen­eral trend of his­tor­i­cal devel­op­ment. Polit­i­cal free­dom in this instance clearly came along with the free mar­ket and the devel­op­ment of cap­i­tal­ist insti­tu­tions. So also did polit­i­cal free­dom in the golden age of Greece and in the early days of the Roman era. His­tory sug­gests only that cap­i­tal­ism is a nec­es­sary con­di­tion for polit­i­cal freedom.

Here is another quote from the same chapter.

Fun­da­men­tally, there are only two ways of coor­di­nat­ing the eco­nomic activ­i­ties of mil­lions. One is cen­tral direc­tion involv­ing the use of coer­cion — the tech­nique of the army and of the mod­ern total­i­tar­ian state. The other is vol­un­tary co-​operation of indi­vid­u­als — the tech­nique of the mar­ket place.

It is an effec­tive mes­sage to high­light the fact that the free mar­ket is all about vol­un­tary coop­er­a­tion and Social­ism is all force and coercion.

Here is part of a tran­script from an inter­view with Mil­ton Frei­d­man on Phil Don­ahue from 1979. The entire inter­view is a must watch.

The great achieve­ments of civ­i­liza­tion have not come from gov­ern­ment bureaus. Ein­stein didn’t con­struct his the­ory under order from a bureau­crat. Henry Ford didn’t rev­o­lu­tion­ize the auto­mo­bile indus­try that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grind­ing poverty you’re talk­ing about, the only cases in recorded his­tory are where they have had cap­i­tal­ism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of soci­eties that depart from that. So that the record of his­tory is absolutely crys­tal clear that there is no alter­na­tive way, so far dis­cov­ered, of improv­ing the lot of the ordi­nary peo­ple that can hold a can­dle to the pro­duc­tive activ­i­ties that are unleashed by the free-​enterprise system.

There was no greater cham­pion of the free mar­ket and no harsher critic of Social­ism than Ayn Rand. Here is one of my favorite quotes by her from Cap­i­tal­ism: The Unknown Ideal writ­ten in 1966.

America’s abun­dance was cre­ated not by pub­lic sac­ri­fices to the com­mon good, but by the pro­duc­tive genius of free men who pur­sued their own per­sonal inter­ests and the mak­ing of their own pri­vate for­tunes. They did not starve the peo­ple to pay for America’s indus­tri­al­iza­tion. They gave the peo­ple bet­ter jobs, higher wages, and cheaper goods with every new machine they invented, with every sci­en­tific dis­cov­ery or tech­no­log­i­cal advance– and thus the whole coun­try was mov­ing for­ward and prof­it­ing, not suf­fer­ing, every step of the way.

Cap­i­tal­ism has cre­ated the high­est stan­dard of liv­ing ever known on earth. The evi­dence is incon­tro­vert­ible. The con­trast between West and East Berlin is the lat­est demon­stra­tion, like a lab­o­ra­tory exper­i­ment for all to see. Yet those who are loud­est in pro­claim­ing their desire to elim­i­nate poverty are loud­est in denounc­ing cap­i­tal­ism. Man’s well-​being is not their goal.

It appears that the free mar­ket has been steadily fail­ing us for the past 100 years. It is not the free mar­ket that has been fail­ing us, it is gov­ern­ment intru­sion into the free mar­ket that has been caus­ing the slow motion col­lapse. Ayn Rand dis­cusses this in The Voice of Rea­son = Essays on Objec­tive Thought,

One of the meth­ods used by sta­tists to destroy cap­i­tal­ism con­sists in estab­lish­ing con­trols that tie a given indus­try hand and foot, mak­ing it unable to solve its prob­lems, then declar­ing that free­dom has failed and stronger con­trols are necessary.

Crit­ics of the free mar­ket com­plain that that sys­tem runs on greed. Here is how to answer that con­cern with a quote by Adam Smith from Chap­ter 2 page 19 of Wealth of Nations.

It is not from the benev­o­lence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our din­ner, but from their regard to their own interest.

I tried to choose just one quote from this arti­cle by Thomas Sow­ell but I could not because it is such a fan­tas­tic article.

If you have more quotes that could help in this bat­tle of ideas please share them in the com­ments section.

There is a philosophic battle royal, or even a metaphoric civil war, raging in this country.  On one side are those who embrace free market capitalism, the economic system that built the United States into the freest and most prosperous nation.  The other side is steadfastly trying to transform this nation into a Democratic Socialist nation, which will only result in economic ruin and an oppressive centralized government, which will become totalitarian over time.

Here is how our great national struggle is described in this American Thinker article

With Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez coming out of the shadows and being described as the future of the Democratic Party, the fight card has been set: socialism versus free-market capitalism.  Socialism versus constitutional republicanism.  Socialism (authoritarianism) versus self-rule.  In short, bondage versus freedom.

All of the defenders of free market capitalism have a much more difficult message to sell.  In order for the free market to work properly all of us have to produce something worth buying, either a service or a good.  No one gets a free ride.  It is much easier to seduce the uninformed with cries of free stuff for everyone.  It has gotten to the point where almost our entire educational system, our news broadcasters, and our entertainment industry are bashing the free market with negative distortions and erroneously praising socialism.  We need to work extra hard to get our facts and arguments right and to transmit them to everyone as effectively as possible.  Here are some of the more impactful facts and arguments I have encountered.

Here is a quote by Milton Friedman from chapter 1 of The Relation Between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom.

Because we live in a largely free society, we tend to forget how limited is the span of time and the part of the globe for which there has ever been anything like political freedom: the typical state of mankind is tyranny, servitude, and misery. The nineteenth century and early twentieth century in the Western world stand out as striking exceptions to the general trend of historical development. Political freedom in this instance clearly came along with the free market and the development of capitalist institutions. So also did political freedom in the golden age of Greece and in the early days of the Roman era. History suggests only that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom.

Here is another quote from the same chapter.

Fundamentally, there are only two ways of coordinating the economic activities of millions. One is central direction involving the use of coercion—the technique of the army and of the modern totalitarian state. The other is voluntary co-operation of individuals—the technique of the market place.

It is an effective message to highlight the fact that the free market is all about voluntary cooperation and Socialism is all force and coercion.

Here is part of a transcript from an interview with Milton Freidman on Phil Donahue from 1979.  The entire interview is a must watch.

The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear that there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by the free-enterprise system.

There was no greater champion of the free market and no harsher critic of Socialism than Ayn Rand.  Here is one of my favorite quotes by her from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal written in 1966.

America’s abundance was created not by public sacrifices to the common good, but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes. They did not starve the people to pay for America’s industrialization. They gave the people better jobs, higher wages, and cheaper goods with every new machine they invented, with every scientific discovery or technological advance- and thus the whole country was moving forward and profiting, not suffering, every step of the way.

Capitalism has created the highest standard of living ever known on earth. The evidence is incontrovertible. The contrast between West and East Berlin is the latest demonstration, like a laboratory experiment for all to see. Yet those who are loudest in proclaiming their desire to eliminate poverty are loudest in denouncing capitalism. Man’s well-being is not their goal.

It appears that the free market has been steadily failing us for the past 100 years.  It is not the free market that has been failing us, it is government intrusion into the free market that has been causing the slow motion collapse.  Ayn Rand discusses this in The Voice of Reason = Essays on Objective Thought,

One of the methods used by statists to destroy capitalism consists in establishing controls that tie a given industry hand and foot, making it unable to solve its problems, then declaring that freedom has failed and stronger controls are necessary.

Critics of the free market complain that that system runs on greed.  Here is how to answer that concern with a quote by Adam Smith from Chapter 2 page 19 of Wealth of Nations.

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

I tried to choose just one quote from this article by Thomas Sowell but I could not because it is such a fantastic article.

If you have more quotes that could help in this battle of ideas please share them in the comments section.