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“One of the wonderful things about free markets is that the path to greater wealth comes not from looting, plundering and enslaving one’s fellow man, as it has throughout most of human history, but by serving and pleasing him.”
Walter Williams, “Caring vs. Uncaring,” 10 May 2006
Occasionally, a friend or neighbor will ask me about the Libertarian position on this or that controversy. The question might be, “What will Libertarians do for the poor?” or “Why don’t Libertarians like the Fed?” I tried to address many of these issues as a candidate back in 2010 and 2012, in a series of campaign essays that I eventually collected and published in book form. The book was (and is) “Less We Can: The Case for Less Government, More Liberty, More Prosperity, and More Security” (2012). Here’s an excerpt that I’ve found to be foundational to many other answers. For example, before we can really understand all that liberty can do for the poor, we need to understand what liberty can do to make sure we have fewer poor people to begin with. So without further ado, this is . . .
How Liberty Creates Prosperity
Most people in the United States take for granted that free-market economies “work” better than centrally planned economies. That is, almost everyone in any domestic political debate will agree, without thinking about it much, that placing the government in charge of how many shoes get made, and what the price of corn should be, and where we all work, would be disastrous for everyone. We’ve seen other countries try it, and we know it doesn’t work.
It’s good that we don’t have to argue about this. But an unfortunate side-effect of not arguing is that many voters don’t really understand why free-market economies are more prosperous, or why government interference usually makes us poorer even when it falls well short of total centralization. And that makes these voters suckers for politicians who promise to “improve” unpopular economic outcomes like high gas prices or electricity brownouts. So let’s look in very basic terms at how liberty creates prosperity. Read the rest of this entry »