Sunday, 27 May 2012

The politicization of economics

Another superb article from Detlev Schlichter.

The political urge to superimpose some unifying ‘national interest’ on all citizens runs counter to everything the decentralized spontaneous market order stands for. The whole point of a market economy is that it is based on private property and voluntary, contractual exchange. And voluntary, contractual exchange works so well because two parties frequently have different interests or tastes or preferences. If I sell you one of my old vinyl LPs for $2, it doesn’t mean we agree that this record is worth $2. We disagree. You value the LP more than $2, I value $2 more than the LP; otherwise we wouldn’t trade. By trading we have both improved our position.


The market economy is precisely so powerful because it is a highly efficient way of human cooperation that does not require ‘common interests’ or ‘single goals’. To the contrary, it thrives on differences and still achieves peaceful cooperation. That is precisely its strength, and that is also what sets it apart from politics. The diversity of human talents, interests and preferences that is simply a fact of life does not have to be suppressed and curtailed to fit into the dumb tribalism of politics, which is always about ‘the Greeks’ need this but ‘the Germans’ want that.

As usual, the article is well worth reading in full.

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