Awhile back I read a fantastic collection of essays by Jeffrey Tucker called “It’s a Jetsons World: Private Miracles and Public Crimes”. Amazingly this book is available for FREE from Mises.org so please check it out and give it a read. It’s a fast, entertaining read. Below is a collection of quotes I found applicable to share. For your refererenced pleasure, despite that while I read it as an EBook I went ahead and searched through the freely available PDF book and found page references for each of the below quotes. Aren’t I nice? … Well okay, it’s really just to calm my OCD.
Pg 17 – Scavengers of the Physical Universe
In Russia, he had learned to grab anything he found because there was a shortage in everything. He was hardly alone in this. The whole society was informed by this sense of valuation. There was no free market at work, so one could be sure of nothing. Socialism led to shortages and poverty: a perfect recipe for rampant materialism. I’m realizing now that we had more in common than I thought at the time. The only difference between us was in what we accumulated. His passion was what I regarded as junk. My passion was for documents: papers, journals, magazines, and books. He thought of all these as luxury goods that could be foregone until life’s essentials were provided for.
Pg 22 – A Society of Mutual Benefactors
As sixteenth-century Spanish theologian Bartolomé de Albornoz, known mostly for his opposition to slavery, wrote,
Buying and selling is the nerve of human life that sustains the universe. By means of buying and selling the world is united, joining distant lands and nations, people of different languages, laws and ways of life. If it were not for these contracts, some would lack the goods that others have in abundance and they would not be able to share the goods that they have in excess with those countries where they are scarce.
Pg 22 – A Society of Mutual Benefactors
However, if we do not quite see the underlying logic of exchange and how it works to help everyone, it is easy to underappreciate what market trading means to society. This is a tendency in the circles that discuss issues of social justice. The market is rarely given the credit it deserves for helping humanity improve its lot. In fact, the market is nothing but the cooperative interaction of humanity in improving the commonweal. The fallacy of value equivalence in exchange has been refuted for some 500 years, and yet it keeps reappearing. Economics is one of those sciences that require careful thought. It can’t be quickly intuited from a handful of moral postulates. It must be studied and understood with deductive tools and patient delineation of a wide range of concepts. It is because of this that economics as a science was so late in developing. But it is not too late for us to understand. The understanding of economics leads to a direct appreciation of the contribution of free markets to the well-being of all. If you read something that seems to disparage the market economy, it is more than likely that a fallacy such as the above is at the root. At some point today, you will undoubtedly engage in some economic exchange. Use the opportunity to reflect on what a glorious dynamic underlies it. You can say, “Thank you.” The person who takes your money can say, “Thank you.” Such opportunities account for most of the peace and prosperity we enjoy this side of heaven.
Pg 127 – The Debt We Owe to Trade
The story, which is apparently true from all the checking I’ve done, appears on page 247 of a marvelous book that covers not only the expansion of the coffee trade but all trade of all goods and services from the Stone Age to the present day, and does so in a marvelously intriguing way. The book is A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World, by William J. Bernstein. The book is long—494 pages—but engaging on every page.
Pg 171 – Why Religious People Struggle with Economics
I have what I think is a new theory about why this situation persists. People who live and work primarily within the religious milieu are dealing mainly with goods of an infinite nature. These are goods like salvation, the intercession of saints, prayers of an infinitely replicable nature, texts, images, and songs that constitute nonscarce goods, the nature of which requires no rationing, allocation, and choices regarding their distribution. None of these goods take up physical space. One can make infinite numbers of copies of them. They can be used without displacing other instances of the good. They do not depreciate with time. Their integrity remains intact no matter how many times they are used. Thus they require no economization. For that reason, there need to be no property norms concerning their use. They need not be priced. There is no problem associated with their rational allocation. They are what economists call “free goods.”
Pg 172 – Why Religious People Struggle with Economics
The term scarcity does not precisely refer to the quantity of goods in existence. It refers to the relationship between how many of these goods are available relative to the demand for goods. If the number available at zero price is fewer than people who want them for any reason whatever, they can be considered scarce goods. It means that there is a limit on the number that can be distributed, given the number of people who want them.
Pg 257 – Free Bernie Madoff
What, then, precisely, is the point of jailing him? He is no direct threat to anyone. Society would not be safer because he is in the slammer. He is not going to rob people or beat people up. He might write a book and donate the funds to charity or make some restitution to his victims. I, for one, would like to read that book.
Pg 276 – Three More Attacks on Civilization
Of course the facts don’t matter. Our conveniences, like clean plates and the machines that make them so, must be sacrificed to the false gods of environmentalism. One of the great innovations in human history must be reverted because governments are enthralled by the witch doctors of Mother Earth. Thus must mankind take yet another step back on the path of social progress. And to heck with your fetish for clean things!
Pg 279 – Why Everything is Dirtier
Then, the other night, I experienced an amazing blast from the past. I added a quarter cup of trisodium phosphate (TSP) and otherwise “treated” nothing. The results were nothing short of mind-boggling. Everything was clean—clean in a way that I recall from childhood.