Friday, August 19, 2016

We Create Our Own Freedom

In "The Intellectual as a Celebrity", Alberto Mingardi wondered why the latest economic "pop stars" (according to the Financial Times), lean decidedly left. Are they iconic because they are beautiful, or because they are so persuasive? Indeed, the anti-market bias sounds "sensible and authoritative", which is why so many people take these individuals seriously.

Too many hours have been lost already this morning in my attempts to respond to his post, so I'll just leave it at this. We create our own freedom. Should we choose not to do so, no government, no private interest is going to secure our economic freedom on our behalf, no matter how much we imagine their willingness to do so.

We can pretend we don't like icky free markets all day long, since it is apparently the cool thing to do, but as someone who lives on a very limited budget, I dare any reader to voluntarily go a month without the economic ability, and/or the right to produce what is meaningful for himself or herself. Believe me it's not as much fun as some imagine. Should we choose not to support the kinds of markets one recognizes as capable of providing true choice, ultimately the result is that we lose our own freedoms - economic or otherwise.

One dangerous aspect of today's economic stagnation, is that governments can't be expected to hire (or otherwise reimburse) us all, even as they attempt to steer markets on our behalf with the "blessings" of private interests. Indeed it is difficult to tell in a time of captured wealth, where any real difference exists between the captured wealth of public enterprise and private enterprise, in the non tradable sectors of the economy.

And the tradable sectors which made freedom and democracy possible in recent centuries, are gradually losing their ability to provide the wealth that the elite of today's non tradable sectors still rely on. If non tradable sectors do not become more inclusive and innovative in an era of growing automation, everyone is going to lose this struggle. No one can expect anyone else to guarantee their freedom, especially if societies remain forced to use knowledge in miniscule segments of approval from high skill sectors. Prosperity will not last long if nothing changes. Democracy would certainly not survive for long. We can do better than this. Let's create a marketplace for time value.

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