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Taking and Sharing

In my latest AIER column, I argue that most actions by real-world governments involve, not sharing, but taking – and that all actions in real-world markets involve, not taking, but sharing. A slice:

As distorted as is the perception that politics is an arena that encourages and enables sharing, even more distorted is the perception that the market is an arena that discourages and prevents sharing. Long before the arrival of what we today call the “sharing economy,” the market has been, and continues to be, history’s most potent and skilled driver of sharing.

Most obviously, it is through the market that we share with each other what each of us produces. Each of us in modern society is a highly specialized producer. I produce only economics lectures and essays; my neighbor produces only the services of an attorney; one of my dearest friends produces only the boutique retailing of high-end women’s clothing. None of us personally produce any but the tiniest fraction of the many goods and services that we daily consume.

I acquire my food, my clothing, my medical care, my entertainment, and everything else that sustains and enriches my life by trading what I produce for the goods and services produced by countless others. Ditto for you. Ditto for everyone you know. And what is this globe-spanning system of specialized production and trading if not a system of sharing?


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