Sheldon Richman on the Consequences of Liberty


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Consistent free-market advocates — and not just professional economists — are not only enthusiastic about their preferred system of political economy; they are very enthusiastic. At least part of that enthusiasm is fueled by a well-grounded conviction that the general level of prosperity would be unprecedentedly high if people were free to engage in peaceful production and exchange without forcible interference by the state or freelance aggressors. This enthusiasm is found in two broad categories of radical free-market advocates, or libertarians: those who regard themselves as consequentialists and those who regard themselves as deontologists. But what if, writes Sheldon Richamn, we suspended disbelief and supposed that free markets could reasonably be expected to impoverish most people while benefiting only the few? What then?