ABCs of Liberty and Economics

I recently purchased the Tuttle Twins books for my son. This included the Tuttle Toddler’s ABC books. I have no incentive (as of writing this) for you to purchase the books. You’re free to purchase them if you desire or not. I believe you will find value in them as they go through concepts of economics and liberty at a level young kids can understand. It was after reading them to my son, the thought for this post came to me, hence the reason for mentioning the books. There’s also the Cato series, which is entirely free, that goes into tremendous depth: https://www.cato.org/cato-university/home-study-course. I believe everyone should listen to this. It’s worth the time.

If you went up to random people on the street and asked them to explain the concepts of supply and demand, free markets, competition, and equality under the law, how many people do you think would give an unbiased response? Said differently, how many people would provide a basic definition before going off towards a ‘rant’ based on their political view.

I’m going with maybe 1 or 2 in a hundred. That’s just a guess but I might not be far off if a poll were conducted. If we don’t understand the concepts, it’s going to be difficult to have a well-functioning system.

Sound Principles

Imagine your favorite sports team. If you don’t have one, pick any sport and any team. Would you still watch the games if the teams played by different rules and the refs applied penalties based on the which teams was playing?

I’m guessing you wouldn’t because it would not be a ‘fair’ contest. Setting aside the discussion of ‘fair’, sports appeal to us because the teams play by the same rules on the field. The refs do their best to officiate according to the rules applying them the same to each team. People are human which brings different abilities to the field and the ability to make mistakes.

If we like this concept in sports, why do we think it ought to be different in the ‘real world’. Why should different rules apply in politics and business? I anticipate you’re struggling to explain that one other than by using the phrase I have for the last section of this post.

Rather than having different rules for different teams and the refs applying the rules differently or the biggest team dictating the rules, let’s work to set the rules so they offer a level playing field to those who will be on the field. We can do this through sound liberty and economic principles. Unfortunately, many of the ideas out there are out of tune at the moment. (See what I did there with sound and out of tune? It’s funnier when I explain it. An eyeroll is appropriate.)

Getting to / Back to Prosperity

There will be challenges with any system so don’t think with the snap of your fingers, everything will be magically better. If there will be challenges with any system, why do I feel a free-market capitalist system is the best to go with? Why not some other -ism system? Look through history and you’ll see free market capitalism has produced the most prosperity for the most people. You’ll also see the failure of other -ism approaches. If you still feel differently after objectively looking through historical results, please make your case.

In my view, if we were to get to a place where the rules were known, limited, and adjudicated equally, we would see overall improvements in prosperity and quality of life. We would see more innovation with people pursuing their interests and not simply working on something because the government has picked the winners and losers.

Yea, but…

A common rebuttal is “we have had free market capitalism and look at what it’s done”. This is just one of the many “yea, but” statements you’ll hear. My take is we haven’t had a free market for a while now. There has been a tremendous amount of government intervention, various policies and programs, that have made a free market playing field unrecognizable. Of course, these government programs were started with the best of intentions and that is what politicians want to be graded on. If the outcome was good, they will take credit for it but how many government programs achieved the outcomes they were sold on?

I’m not advocating to get rid of government. For all the complaints I have with them, I do think, for the time being at least, we need some limited version of government. Key word, limited. Think of them as the refs and the governing body for your sports league. Rather than picking winners or tilting the field towards one team, they do their best to make the on-field competition as appealing as possible to attract as many fans as possible. Imagine if government did that now.

Also consider the athletes on the field didn’t just show up one morning and make the team. They started playing when they were young and put in work throughout the years. They had a tremendous amount of training, practice, and competition along the way. I think that same model could be implemented to improve everyone’s life over time. The current education system today is woefully inadequate. Think about this as well, the athletes don’t prosper in isolation. They need those on their team as well as competitors to achieve greatness.

Continuing with the sports theme to wrap this up along with one the phrases I dislike the most, ‘at the end of the day’ I believe we will benefit from a level playing field in the arena of life. One where the rules are known and applied equally. This allows people to utilize their talent on the field. Sometimes you’ll win and sometimes you’ll lose but you’ll still be able to step on the field just like everyone else. This starts with you learning, understanding, and advocating for sound liberty and economic principles.