Feed on

I often field concerns that the “market is great and all that, but the poor still get screwed because the people who have the money get the goodies.” To which there are many responses. The two I would like to mention, that are completely and utterly ignored by anti-market fundamentalists are:

  1. People seem to have this faith that the poor do better under alternative systems than market systems. If you believe this, ask yourself the question, are the rich and powerful less able to “win” if goods and services were distributed politically? How about when we use merit to ration goods? Or how about if we rationed goods by forming lines? Even if you ignore the problem with non-market mechanisms and their impact on suppliers (i.e. without the possibility of reward, what incentive do producers have to make iPods, cars, televisions, pizza, etc.?) can you claim seriously that the poor have a better chance of securing goods and services under those systems? Would you rather have been poor in the USSR in 1980 or America in 1980? Would you rather be poor in America in 1750 or in America in 2008?
  2. Poverty is a result of a person’s inability to produce goods and services that other people value. This may often not be due to anything in the control of an individual (i.e. bad luck is prevalent) but it is true nonetheless. It has nothing to do with the economic system you are operating under.  Blaming the bad lot of people on markets is similar to blaming the bad taste of your dinner on the fork you are using to pick up your tuna-chocolate lasagna.

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