June 17, 2009

Wednesday Wisdom

The truth is that capitalism has not only multiplied population figures but at the same time improved the people’s standard of living in an unprecedented way. Neither economic thinking nor historical experience suggest that any other social system could be as beneficial to the masses as capitalism. The results speak for themselves. The market economy needs no apologists and propagandists. It can apply to itself the words of SirChristopher Wren’s epitaph in St.Paul’s: Si monumentum requires,circumspice. [“If you seek his monument, look around.”]

Ludwig von Mises


  1. Aww, did you post this specially for me? ;-)

  2. You bet Cube, thought of you as soon as I saw it, thought you'd like it. :-D

    Besides, difficult to argue with.

    Capitalism is, I've always thought, much like democracy, which as we know is the worst form of government, except for all the others. Likewise, capitalism is the worst economic construct, except all the others.

  3. Here's to capitalism & democracy... until (and if) something better comes along *clink*

  4. "The market economy needs no apologists and propagandists" ? ? ?

    So then why is Ludwig being so gabby anout this? Why is he labouring that which ‘speaks for itself’?

    "There is simply no other choice than this: either to abstain from interference in the free play of the market, or to delegate the entire management of production and distribution to the government. Either capitalism or socialism: there exists no middle way." (Liberalism, 1927)

    Sheesh, talk about 'black & white'! The first thing one might observe, notwithstanding Ludwig’s non-propaganda, is that just about every country on earth steers some kind of ‘middle way’.

  5. Not sure what "something better" might look like Cube - a little slice of heaven somewhere over the rainbow, 'ey?

    Maybe human kind has reached the limits of governance and economic imagination. Talk about peaking early ....

    Jacob - I always have a little snigger, on the inside, at the rugged individualism and independence of, say, farmers - who we know single handedly built this country and every other country! Yeah dudes. Single handedly, with more subsidies, deductions and handouts than even the average CEO could dream of.

    Yes, it's a funny old thing how much governments have to, err, *assist* the masses in their glorious freedom to go about their business as they see fit.

  6. Indeed Caz - re lobbies such as the farmers - coalitions coalesce in every body politic winning undue advantage for the coalescents ("distorting markets", perhaps, in Friedman-speak).

    Purists such as Wiggy idealise a game-theory kind of view of society, while de-emphasising the down-side of, say, what's generally called 'healthy competition'.

    These kinds of discussions always call to mind the now rather hackneyed rhetorical question:

    "If competition is such a good thing, then why do gardeners weed their gardens?"

    Well, I've never been able to come up with a definitive answer to that question - a trick question? - but I know it has to do with value systems and what not. So, one has to ask what 'value system' purists like Wiggy adhere to?

    Er, just some late evening random thoughts...

  7. If weeds are a signifier of welcome competition, or evolutionary advantage, by the same rhetorical argument we'd let the swine flu or cancer cells take over the host. Wouldn't want to thwart competition of the hardiest variety ...

    So, the rhetoric doesn't stand up to scrutiny. It's a red hearing.

    Competition seems to work very well for the micro economy, whether it be butchers, bakers, or candlestick makers, not to mention the daily individual purchasing activities of consumers.

    However, at the macro economic level, an awful lot of government putty filler is needed to create the illusion of capitalism. No more illusory, mind you, than the distorted and putty filled socialist or communist economies, which are all too often cobbled together with used chewing gum, second hand string and fire arms.

    Besides, contrary to the puritans group think, in capitalism, there are many natural monopolies, of which capitalist ideology insists on imposing itself to create artificial competition - an ugly spawn, worse than the red haired step child - to the great disadvantage of consumers. This is when the free market looks its worst.