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Quotation of the Day…

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… is from page 243 of my late colleague Jim Buchanan [2]‘s 1985 article “Political Economy and Social Philosophy” as it is reprinted in Moral Science and Moral Order [3], Vol. 17 of The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan:

The market allows each participant to seek to further “that which he wants,” given the constraints that he confronts, and “that which A wants” need not be brought into agreement with “that which B wants” at all.  Indeed, the efficacy of market process is located in its facilitation of the satisfaction of divergent preferences.

Exactly so.  Market outcomes are far more diverse than are political ones.  Compared to politics, markets permit and enable a much wider range of individual choices.  Individuality – diversity – non-conformity – piecemeal experimentation not only with different ways of doing business but also with different life-styles – are all much larger in scope under markets than under politics.  And as Jim’s quotation suggests, markets are also more peaceful and less confrontational than is politics: I can choose my wardrobe style, my car, my house style, the size of my family, my rate of saving my income, and my particular risk levels in my investments, in my occupation, in my recreational activities, and in my medical treatments without forcing you to consume, invest, and live just as I do or even to approve of my choices.

The market is a forum of mutual respect or, at least, tolerance.  Politics, in contrast, is a forum for those with power to disdain and to be intolerant of the choices of others, and to arrogantly impose their wills upon others.

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