The worst market failure is the market’s poor public relations. By far.
The market is far too quiet and modest about its countless brilliant achievements. The market routinely brings forth astonishing innovations that benefit billions, yet most of these innovations go unnoticed by most people. Worse, when pointed out, each one of these achievements is likely to be regarded by intellectuals with contempt and sometimes even with scorn.
Very few of the genuine achievements of markets – routine achievements such as shaving a few cents (meaning, a few real resources) off of the cost of producing lumber or laundry detergent; expanding breakfast-cereal and deodorant options available to consumers; arranging affordable and safe intercontinental jet travel; not merely building but making widely available better mousetraps and MacBooks and Marvel Comics movies – are celebrated. These achievements, though, occur with remarkable regularity. Throughout each day each of us consumes the fruits of these achievements. Our lives are improved by them. But we don’t notice them. We instead complain that Uber uses peak-load pricing and that Jeff Bezos has multiple times more money than me.
The market needs much better public relations. What’s with so many people believing that the likes of Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump are so much more intelligent, informed, and enlightened than are each of the millions of ordinary men and women who each day use their talents to sustain and improve the modern world?
If you doubt me, look at this video about the sheer genius – genius fueled by the profit motive – that has gone into the creation of the modern aluminum can. (I thank my son, Thomas, for alerting me to this video.)