Intangible Wealth

The Evolution of Liberty

A discussion about brain, belief, and politics

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I am participating in a discussion at Cato Unbound which this month is focusing on the brain, belief, and politics. Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic magazine kicked off the discussion with his essay, "Liberty and Science." Next up was Eliezer Yudkowski, an artificial intelligence researcher at the Singularity Institute, with "Is That Your True Rejection?" And the third participant, Joe Carter, the online editor of First Things, asks, "Should Libertarians Trust the Monkey Mind?" My essay is below: 

In his lead essay, Michael Shermer usefully defines what he calls the Realistic Vision as one accepting that "human nature is relatively constrained by our biology and evolutionary history, and therefore social and political systems must be structured around these realities, accentuating the positive and attenuating the negative aspects of our natures." Accentuating the positive and attenuating the negative aspects of our natures are exactly what liberalism (libertarianism) has done so brilliantly since its advent a little over two centuries ago at the edges of Europe.

The sweep of history clearly shows that the natural state of humanity is abject poverty. Very much in line with the views of Friedrich Hayek, the most brilliant economist of the 20th century, I understand human evolution and history as a search through time in which thousands of societies and billions of people tested religious, political, family, and economic institutions. Those slowly discovered institutions differentially helped some groups to out-reproduce and out-compete other groups. The institutions that helped groups that discovered and adopted them to succeed against other groups can be thought of as embodying an ever better understanding of our human natures.

One gets a good idea of just how slow this undirected search for ever more effective institutions has been when one considers the income data compiled by economist Angus Maddison. Maddison calculated that the average income per capita in western Europe in the year 1 was about $600 (in 1990 real dollars). Incomes finally doubled to $1200 by 1820. Nearly 1,800 years for average western European incomes to double! But after 1820, incomes took off, nearly tripling by 1913, tripling again by 1973, and nearly doubling by 2003 to $21,000 per person. In other words, people living in western Europe make 35 times more on average than their Roman ancestors did. On the other hand, a group of researchers recently noted that a billion people live on less than a dollar per day and "are roughly as poor today as their ancestors were thousands of years ago." Why did some portion of humanity finally escape our natural state of abject poverty? Because their societies finally stumbled upon the set of institutions that are broadly defined as liberal.

Jonathan Rauch in his wonderful book Kindly Inquisitors offers a nice schema for the institutions that comprise liberal societies. Rauch argues that our Enlightenment civilization stands on three pillars: democracy, which is how we determine who gets to wield legitimate coercive force; capitalism, which is how we determine who gets what; and a third pillar that Rauch calls liberal science, which is how we determine what is true.

In Rauch's conception, liberal science embodies the principle that the "checking of each by each through public criticism is the only legitimate way to decide who is right." Liberal science is broadly speaking free speech, and it encompasses everything from the most biased activist pamphlet to rigorously peer-reviewed scientific journals. Shermer highlights this point when he quotes Timothy Ferris, author of the superb The Science of Liberty. Ferris asserts that "liberalism and science are methods, not ideologies." Both embody the freedom to explore and experiment, enabling people to more systematically seek truths about the physical and social worlds. Both science and liberalism advance in better understanding their subject matters by falsifying asserted claims. As Hayek argues, "Human reason can neither predict nor deliberately shape its own future. Its advances consist in finding out where it has been wrong." It is through a continual process of trial and error that science and liberalism ultimately yield better ways of doing things.

It is telling that the motto for one of the first official organizations of scientists, the Royal Society in Britain founded in 1660 is "Nullius in Verba," which roughly translates to "Take nobody's word for it." Arguments from authority, religious or political, no longer went unquestioned. Another crucial Enlightenment insight might be summarized as "I may not know the absolute transcendent truth, but I do sure as Hell know that you don't either." It is the combination of the three institutions identified by Rauch that produced and continues to produce the material progress that the rising trend of Maddison's income figures so vividly illustrates.

In fact, the World Bank has completed a study that puts a cash value on liberty. It turns out that the vast majority of the world's wealth is embodied in liberal institutions and human brains. The report titled The Changing Wealth of Nations [PDF] shows that the average American has access to about $734,000 in wealth. However, most of it—85 percent—is intangible. In fact, the United States was first in the world in the amount of its intangible wealth, at $628,000 per person. In comparison, despite a couple of decades of unprecedented economic growth, the average Chinese person has access to just $19,000 in per capita wealth, of which $9,000 is intangible.

What is intangible wealth? The World Bank study defines it as "human capital, social, and institutional capital which includes factors such as the rule of law and governance that contribute to an efficient economy." Note that this is a pretty good summary of the 12 essential institutions of liberty listed by Shermer. The study goes on to point out that free societies are the ones that encourage the accumulation of human capital—they educate their people—and also allow for its effective use.

Effective use is the key. Russians average nearly $340,000 in human capital, but the effects of the country's bad institutions—corruption and squelched speech—more than offset the benefits of Russian human capital by a negative $350,000. The bottom line is that the intangible wealth of living in free countries with honest governments surrounded by educated people dramatically boosts a person's ability to earn income and create wealth.

The arc of history must be on the side of liberty, right? After all, don't groups discovering and using successful institutions eventually out-compete groups with less successful institutions? Friedrich Hayek identified a significant problem—human nature brings with it human hubris.

Surely Shermer is right that the values that undergird the love of liberty are "part of our evolved nature." They would have to be; otherwise relatively free societies like ours would never have arisen. But the slow progress of institutional innovation shows that the countervailing values of tribalism have been dominant over most of history. As Shermer shows in his excellent new book, The Believing Brain, humans are a conservative species. And why not? Most experiments don't work out, and in the Paleolithic era, a failed experiment (like eating the wrong fruit or grub) took the experimenter out of the lottery to become an ancestor.

In his last book, The Fatal Conceit, Hayek persuasively argued that "an atavistic longing after the life of the noble savage is the main source of the collectivist tradition." Tribal instincts once helped roving bands of primitive people to survive and are still the bases of the bonds of intimacy we share with our families and friends. However, the more recently evolved institutions of individual liberty—contracts, the rule of law, private property, profit—strike modern tribalists as cold and unfair. This sentiment was well captured in The Communist Manifesto, in which Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels declared that the avatar of "Free Trade," the bourgeoisie, "has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous 'cash payment.' It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation."

Modern progressives are motivated by an old instinct to restore the primitive egalitarianism that characterized human social relations when people lived in intimate hunter-gatherer bands, corresponding to the Marxian notion of primitive pre-state communism. For their part, modern conservatives intuitively dislike the socially disruptive character of markets and free speech and want to protect their group from outside competition and cultural corruption. These atavistic longings are part of the bio-psychological heritage of humanity and must be constantly resisted if the ambit of liberty is to thrive and expand. Liberalism (libertarianism) rises above and rejects the primitive moralities embodied in the universalist collectivism of progressives and the tribalist collectivism of conservatives. In doing so, it made the rule of law, freedom of speech, religious tolerance, and modern prosperity possible.

Hayek also identified a specific problem with the development of science—its success tempts some people to believe that they now know enough to mold society after their hearts' desires (and those desires are always in a collectivist direction). As Hayek pointed out in The Constitution of Liberty, "those intoxicated by the advance of knowledge so often become the enemies of freedom."

In truth, the would-be molders-of-the-future have it exactly backward. The expansion of science means that every individual is increasingly ignorant relative to the amount of information now known. Free markets, democratic political institutions, and liberal science enable people to discover, marshal, and benefit from new, widely dispersed information. As Hayek explained, "It is because freedom means the renunciation of direct control of individual efforts that a free society can make use of so much more knowledge than the mind of the wisest ruler could comprehend."

As the history of the last two centuries has shown, Hayek was surely right when he concluded:

Nowhere is freedom more important than where our ignorance is greatest—at the boundaries of knowledge, in other words, where nobody can predict what lies a step ahead….the ultimate aim of freedom is the enlargement of those capacities in which man surpasses his ancestors and to which each generation must endeavor to add its share—its share in the growth of knowledge and the gradual advance of moral and aesthetic beliefs, where no superior must be allowed to enforce one set of views of what is right or good and where only further experience can decide what should prevail. It is wherever man reaches beyond his present self, where the new emerges and assessment lies in the future, that liberty ultimately shows its value.

The discussion continues at Cato Unbound for the rest of the month. 

Ronald Bailey is Reason magazine's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is now available from Prometheus Books.

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  1. Modern progressives are motivated by an old instinct to restore the primitive egalitarianism that characterized human social relations when people lived in intimate hunter-gatherer bands[…]

    Please don’t invoke White Injun, Ron!

    1. That had to be put in there as bait.

      1. Disclosure: Ron Bailey once owned three shares of Osaka Troll Bait Concern.

  2. “Should Libertarians Trust the Monkey Mind?”

    You mean the last president or the current one?

    1. I’m a known primate, ipso facto monkey-minded.

      1. Do you feel the urge to throw shit through the bars?

        1. Good way to get into a bar fight!

      2. And you’re known to throw your feces so that’s a double threat.

        1. When I throw a feces it stays thrown.

          1. Of course, as a capitalist, I don’t cast my own feces. I have others cast feces for me.

            1. The essence of comparative advantage: having others throw shit while you use your own talents to direct where the shit will be thrown.

              1. I’m a trained feces targeter.

          2. You’re a blog commentator.
            ‘Nuff said.

          3. You’re a blog commentator.
            ‘Nuff said.

      3. not all primates are monkeys, your attempt at humor is foiled by its obvious stupidity

    2. “You mean the last president or the current one?”
      Yes!

    3. You juzz ask if Obama had a monkey mind? Das rassist

  3. Liberty didn’t evolve, it was created.

    1. You sure? I mean, if you are all alone, you’re free to do whatever you can.

      1. How can you have liberty if your genes programmed you before you were born to be a rebel or an obsequious bastard?

        1. Re: Tim,

          How can you have liberty if your genes programmed you before you were born to be a rebel or an obsequious bastard?

          I was programmed by my genes to be a phlegmatic malcontent.

  4. I’m a monkey, all my friends are junkies!

    1. I’m a fleabit peanut monkey,
      All my friends are junkies,
      That’s not really true.

      See the rest of the lyrics and a performance of the song here.

  5. Free markets, democratic political institutions, and liberal science enable people to discover, marshal, and benefit from new, widely dispersed information.

    Don’t the so-called “democratic political institutions” exacerbate the tribalist mindset more than restrain it? Or is the Team Blue vs Team Red theater just a figment of my imagination?

    1. I’d certaintly say so, though I have a feeling the author mean republican style political instiutions. And I think that is what the author mean’t when he wrote democratcic instititions, institutions that are governed by the rule of law and the popular consent of those who are governed.

    2. Everything’s relative. Sure the Blue/Red theater is tiresome, but do you really think it’s as tribal as a government led by Gaddafi or Stalin?

  6. What’s interesting is Michael Shermer being at the CATO institute.
    They are diametrically opposed to the AGW issue.

    1. Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic magazine

      1. That’s the one! He sure as hell is not skeptical about AGW, in fact he absolutly believes it. The Cato Institute….not so much.

        1. Brink Lindsey is the editor and he “absolutely believes it.”

          1. I can’t be skeptical about everything. Some things you just gotta go with the consensus.

          2. Be that as it may, the Cato Institute is generally skeptical of AGW. They present articles on both sides, but as I said ….AGW…..not so much! Perhaps you should visit their web site.

          3. Actually, I’m the editor. But I absolutely believe it too.

            1. Jason,
              Don’t absolutely believe it. The evidence is very strong, but absolute belief is for religion, not science.

            2. Those who 100% buy the AGW hypothesis should therefore be coming down the *hardest* on the tactics of the ClimateGate-exposed crowd, because in that light they have done substantial harm to this important cause by discrediting ‘climate science’ in the whole.

              Funny how that does not, has not happened.

  7. The sweep of history clearly shows that the natural state of humanity is abject poverty.

    History, yes, but humanity is much older than history. Humanity’s natural state is small bands of hunter-gatherers. This state can’t be called “rich” or “poor” without veering into absurdity. How rich is the wolf?

    In his last book, The Fatal Conceit, Hayek persuasively argued that “an atavistic longing after the life of the noble savage is the main source of the collectivist tradition.”

    The collectivist tradition is far older than the Noble Savage myth. The Athenians worried about concentrations of wealth distorting political power. They weren’t looking to emulate “savages” – who they thought were imbeciles – they were trying to avoid having their government be bought by the rich.

    1. The wolf is in a constant state of struggle to survive, as were the hunter-gatherers. Now, I wouldn’t argue we’re *as* better off than our ancestors as our percentage improvement in wealth would by itself indicate, but I wouldn’t deny we’re definitely better off, either. As for the Athenians, I’m glad they were concerned about bribery, but I’m even more glad that such problems haven’t kept Western society from continuing to advance.

      1. Hi, fyodor, good to see you posting again.

        It was nice to meet you at the Reason gathering in Denver.

        … Hobbit

        1. Real libertarians don’t leave their mothers’ basements to socialize.

    2. Jersey Patriot,

      The alpha wolf is much richer than the rest. Animals store their wealth as body fat, and their stores vary greatly from individual to individual. Many animals also store food. They also have varying cache sizes.

      1. Animals store their wealth as body fat

        Like I said, absurd.

        1. And as you were told, it isn’t, you’re just incapable of admitting your point was moronic.

      2. An other sign of wealth is the harem – which leads to offspring.

    3. there’s a cartoon showing two stone age guys talking, I don’t get it, the water is pure, the air is clear, everything is natural, we get plenty of exercise, but no one lives past 30.

      hunter gatherers lead rough lives. No one is trying to emulate them. It is foolish to glorify poverty.

  8. Maddison calculated that the average income per capita in western Europe in the year 1 was about $600 (in 1990 real dollars).

    About 2 billion people live on less than 2 dollars a day. How could such a large portion of modern humanity be stuck with the wealth levels of year 1 Europeans?

    1. Lots of reasons best understood if you spend about 50 years living in Povertyikstan.

    2. Because the rich people stole the money from poor Africans, that’s why!

  9. Mostly good essay, but does anyone else find it tautological to support the assertion that liberal institutions create wealth in part with calculations that place (intangible!) value on access to liberal institutions?

      1. i just get stuck on ‘liberal’…
        ‘constructive’ or ‘destructive’ seems more to the point…

    1. I think it’s also fair to note that many liberal nations over 1820-present were decidedly illiberal to certain internal populations and many other nations. Where exactly did Europe get its rubber and ivory? Where do liberal nations get their oil? How did the American South grow so much cheap cotton in the 1850s? Liberalism either had nothing to do with it or is a far less freedom-oriented system than it’s held out to be.

      1. JP: That’s why it’s called the “evolution” of liberty.

      2. Or it still had a lot of work to do.

      3. Liberal nations pay for their oil. Any “theft,” if you wish, is being conducted by the potentates in the oil producing nations as they steal from their own and hoard it.

        Your point about the slave economy of the south is more to the point. Nonetheless, slave labor failed next to the economic value of freedom in the northern, industrial states who won the war by outproducing their enemy and fielding a better equipped army.

    2. I don’t think the wealth value of intangible assets need be determined tautologically. Think of it this way: when a person goes and does some work, how long/hard do they have to work to generate a given outcome? If they have the use of a nail gun on top of just a hammer, they can produce more. This effect can be measured, without needing any a priori assumptions about what tools are more or less useful in making wealth generation easier.

      Now, it is true that intangible assets can’t be liquidated in the way a nailgun could be, so they’re definitely a different kind of “wealth”. But the point is that the value of this form of wealth is not just arbitrarily claimed; it is demonstrated.

      1. Ventifact: Intangible wealth is calculated ast the Samuelson residual. Basically, the World Bank adds up all of the tangible wealth in country — factories, farms, forests, mines, oil well, roads, etc.– and they find that the assets constitute far less wealth one would expect to produce the given level of per capita income. For example, tangible assets in the U.S. add up to $114,000 per capita. Assuming a generous a six percent return that would yield around $6,000 per year. However, per capita income in the U.S. actually is around $44,000 which suggests that intangible capital (network effects of educated people, relatively honest bureaucracy, a free press, and the rule of law, etc.) enable more wealth production than the total value of physical assets would suggest.

        1. Thanks for the info, Ron. Seems the key point for this sub-discussion is that the value of the intangible assets is determined without needing any knowledge about what the social institutions are in a given economy. After the fact, when the intangible values have been calculated, one can observe patterns about which social systems tend to provide more intangible wealth.

          A shadow of circularity does arise if one goes on to suggest generating greater intangible wealth in a given economy by emulating social institutions from some other, high-performing, economy. But this isn’t tautology, it’s just iteration. It’s not tautological to re-use the successful features of a prototype in a subsequent model.

        2. Thank you for clearing that up. Methodology does make all the difference.

  10. Eliezer’s essay has a really good overview of narrow-sense heritability for the math challenged.

    Joe Carter is insane.

  11. “Most experiments don’t work out, and in the Paleolithic era, a failed experiment (like eating the wrong fruit or grub) took the experimenter out of the lottery to become an ancestor.”
    Bailey!!! Bailey!!! Bailey!!!!
    This is the second time in the last 3 weeks or so you have made this stupid fucking comment.
    How does dying from poison remove one from being an ancestor???? What the fuck don’t you understand about being an ancestor??? If he dies after having children….HE IS AN ANCESTOR!!!! Get it??? It does not matter how he dies, but when he dies. God damn boy!

    1. The author said he became an ancestor….you can’t become one unless you both have had children and have become dead. Read more carefully, he isn’t saying he was removed from being an ancestor, he was removed from living to become an ancestor.

      1. NO actually, he isn’t. YOU should read more carefully so you don’t look like a fucking idiot

      2. Aren’t you the same fucking idiot that came to Bailey’s defense the last time he spouted this silly bullshit??? I explained it to you then and after 3 weeks of thinking about it you are still a fucking idiot!

        1. Can you please use more question marks in your next post? Thanks.

          1. Do numerous question marks bother you???

    2. realist: I am sorry for any confusion, but the implication is that the sort of person who was genetically inclined to run around eating sketchy fruits and grubs tended on average to die before reproducing. That’s how natural selection works.

      1. Just don’t ask me about global warming. I’m clueless.

        1. don’t tease Ron, he’ll bring hellfire down upon you…

      2. Then be more definitive.

  12. “On the other hand, a group of researchers recently noted that a billion people live on less than a dollar per day and “are roughly as poor today as their ancestors were thousands of years ago.”
    Damn few live on a dollar a day. Poor people receive food, medical and other supplies from the richer nations.
    The amount of money you make in a time period means nothing without taking into account the cost of living.
    “Because their societies finally stumbled upon the set of institutions that are broadly defined as liberal.”
    What a quaint, touchy-feely way to get around the fact that there is a big difference in IQ between “societies”. “Stumbled” indeed.

    1. There’s at least some instances where I’m pretty sure society preceded IQ, e.g. Ashkenazim.

      1. What the fuck does that mean?????

        1. It means, how the fuck do you that high IQ lead to “liberal” societies and not the other way around? The Ashkenazim are an obvious example of people whose IQ’s increased after relatively advanced societies were already established.

          1. “The Ashkenazim are an obvious example of people whose IQ’s increased after relatively advanced societies were already established.”
            How would you know that? That is not documented.
            People with higher IQ’s flourish, prosper…..and survive.
            That is why low IQ people tend to be poor and die young….unless dumb fuck libs like you take money, by force, from the productive and give it to the useless.

    2. it is common to find that people in an african mud thatched village have cell phones. People like these things and somehow they get them. They also like t shirts with cartoon figures and little girls like pink barretes and beads. women like bras. people like things. let them have them when they can get them.

  13. USA, NATO, Mission Accomplished!

    sucks to be on the losing side, eh:
    Amnesty also found more recent unlawful killings “perpetrated by organised groups who operate freely, openly and with impunity”. Victims’ families were generally unwilling to protest for fear of reprisals and to avoid the stigma of being labelled Gaddafi loyalists or “anti-revolutionary”.

    … The report states: “Victims are subjected to beatings and other abuses seemingly to extract confessions and to punish them for their alleged ‘crimes’.

    Replacing Gaddafi:
    “We are seeking to establish a state government by law and welfare ? and Sharia, Islamic law, should be the main source of law.”

    The Evolution of Liberty indeed….

    1. NP: The evolution of liberty — not the evolution of utopia. Tribalism still exists but is receding.

  14. Here’s the LessWrong thread on Eliezer’s piece.

    Yvain brought up his excellent essay from last year, Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism.

    Without meaning to imply anything about whether or not any of these positions are correct or not, the following triads come to mind as connected to an uneducated/contrarian/meta-contrarian divide:

    – KKK-style racist / politically correct liberal / “but there are scientifically proven genetic differences”
    – misogyny / women’s rights movement / men’s rights movement
    – conservative / liberal / libertarian …
    – don’t care about Africa / give aid to Africa / don’t give aid to Africa …

    If meta-contrarianism is a real tendency in over-intelligent people, it doesn’t mean they should immediately abandon their beliefs; that would just be meta-meta-contrarianism. It means that they need to recognize the meta-contrarian tendency within themselves and so be extra suspicious and careful about a desire to believe something contrary to the prevailing contrarian wisdom, especially if they really enjoy doing so.

  15. …and that’s why top marginal tax rates should be 35% rather than 39%.

    Seriously, libertarianism doesn’t fit in the picture. It’s not the same as liberalism. And this bogeyman “progressivism” is the invention of talk radio, and someone who believes in the noble virtue of the rule of law and other liberal institutions has no call to accuse others for believing in collectivism.

    In economics there are two directions: more egalitarian or less. Capitalism is rightly defined as “how we decide who gets what.” And like all other institutions, it is something that can be improved upon by trial and error. Why are we not allowed to innovate ways to improve capitalism?

    Whatever libertarianism shares with true liberalism in supporting individual dignity, libertarianism remains mostly the worship of capitalism. And you cannot do that and be concerned with individual dignity at the same time. Libertarianism is just another in a long line of “authority” obeyers, that authority being the market. “Take nobody’s word for it” except the market’s.

    The defense presented here, in supposed contrast to those who worship the savage, is an ode to the wonders of natural selection. But you suppose you can approach that “ideal” with a specific (and narrow) economic and political system that is, let’s admit it, foreign to human history?

    Real liberalism never stopped being pragmatic, so you can assume it has learned something since the 19th century. Like how to strengthen the institutions of the world that contribute to raising the standard of living of human beings, including capitalism.

    Libertarianism is not the pragmatic alternative to “progressivism” and conservatism, which broadly defined are the pragmatic approaches. It’s just another dogma.

    1. “In economics there are two directions: more egalitarian or less.”

      Congrats, you just wrote the dumbest thing I’ve read all day.

    2. “like all other institutions, it is something that can be improved upon by trial and error. Why are we not allowed to innovate ways to improve capitalism?”

      Trial and error doesn’t mean ‘try the same thing over and over again despite a long record of fail because it fits my beliefs better’. We can talk about “innovation” as soon as a progressive or socialist comes up with an idea that can’t be traced back to the nineteenth century.

      1. But we did innovate things that worked, and you want to dismantle them all in favor of something that’s never even been tested.

        1. One does not “obey” the market anymore one obeys the sun rising every day. You can make laws all you want about what time the sun should rise, or one can accept this is how the sun works and live with it. One can obey government not the markets.

          And no you are not a liberal, you are a standard socialist, every single one of your beliefs is a socialist one, which parts of socialism do you not agree with ?

          1. That government should own all the means of production?

            1. IOW, Tony is an economic fascist.

    3. Re: Sockpuppet,

      Capitalism is rightly defined as “how we decide who gets what.”

      You’re just lousy at this definition thing, sockpuppet.

      And like all other institutions, it is something that can be improved upon by trial and error.

      You’re also lousy at this logic thing, sockpuppet. An “institution” is not defined by trial and error.

      Why are we not allowed to innovate ways to improve capitalism?

      Because you’re too incompetent?

      1. Incisive as always OM.

    4. “And this bogeyman “progressivism” is the invention of talk radio,…”

      Oh great, the Left is disavowing the progressive label again?

      1. I LOL’ed at that too.

        It was the ‘liberals’ who insist on being called ‘progressives.’

        WTF?

    5. “Capitalism is rightly defined as “how we decide who gets what.”

      All you are saying is that is the definition of any economic system. The difference is that “Capitalism”, or more properly the free market, is that there is no central authority deciding who gets what, just the aggregate choices of everyone buying and selling goods, services and labor.

      1. Sounds nice, but there’s always going to be policy in place that determines what is rewarded in a capitalist system. It could reward hard work and entrepreneurship, or it could reward exploiting natural resources and people, or it could reward simply already having lots of wealth. The idea that there is a magical sweet spot of capitalism where everything comes out at some optimum with nobody paying attention is nonsense.

        1. A brilliant agrument for less “policy” in every instance.

        2. [a magical sweet spot of capitalism where everything comes out at some optimum ]

          Another brilliant agument for “policy” that is not result oriented, but rather accessibility oriented.

    6. “In economics there are two directions: more egalitarian or less.”

      Of course you have difficulty understanding if your value system is so one dimensional, and that dimension is one most here do not consider particularly important.

  16. THE CURE FOR ALL MENTAL ILLNESS

    Website: http://www.thecureforallmentalillness.com

    Global connotations for certainty.

  17. “the average American has access to about $734,000 in wealth”

    That is awesome! Good bye student loans!! Wait… what mean “intangible”?

  18. Only a few lines to thank Ronald Bailey for his words in the essay “The Evolution of Liberty” which help to get a btter understanding of what is liberty an the politics of liberalism (libertarism as Americans like to say). I will follow the discussion with great interest from Spain.
    Best regads.
    Antonio

  19. For some reason the quote of Hayek which begins with, “Nowhere is freedom more important than where our ignorance is greatest…,” reminds me of C.S. Lewis writing that, “The more perfect a thing becomes, the less like anything else it is.” OWTTE Right now I am not making a complete connection between the two remarks, but I guess that is part of my current ignorance. GB

  20. Hayek was the WORST economist of the 20th century, Keynes was the greatest. To read Hayek’s predictions about regulated Europe today is laughable.

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