Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Are markets moral?

Well, of course they are! Why? Because WE are moral beings. It´s actually as simple as that. Anti-capitalists and socialists always talk about the greed of capitalism. Well, this "greed" is actually better described as self-interest. Capitalism is the best available platform where an individual can most efficiently pursue his or her happiness.
You might now be thinking that this leads to a society build on selfishness and not caring for our fellow human being, but this is not the case! Because through evolution, our best self interest is almost always dependent on the best possible outcome for others, mainly those in our closest circle.

Many of us have imagined, at one point or another, what it would be like to win the lottery. We start fantasizing what we would do with the money. Now, ask yourself, has your imaginary actions with that money been strictly self-centered, so much that it excludes anyone else? Of course not. You might imagine that you will buy a home for your mother, or that you´ll take your girlfriend on a cruise, or that you will build a amusement center for kids. Few of us, if any, would ever imagine to do things by ourselves, like an old Scrooge. Me being happy is dependent on those around me being happy.

This principle works in capitalism as well. For Bill Gates to gain the most possible wealth, Microsoft has to deliver the best possible software at the least possible cost for the consumers. Thanks to a competitive market, he is forced to do so, since the people who would provide him with the wealth could otherwise turn to his competitors. It is by keeping the consumers, you and me, happy by providing the best product at the least possible cost, that Bill Gates can be as wealthy as he is. His self-interest is therefore dependent on our happiness.

It is when this principle of FREE market is abolished that we don´t see this outcome. When bureaucratic interference with the market allows companies to work around this fundamental principle of capitalism, things start to go wrong. When businesses receive subsidies from the government, they are protected from competition, and those who suffer are the consumers, i.e you and me. An example of this was when Reagan, that supposed hero of free market capitalism, saw that Harley Davidson, a domestic company, could not provide the average American worker with the best motorcycles to the lowest price when confronted with competition from Japanese manufacturers, and therefore raised the tariffs on import of motorcycles from 4.4% to a staggering 49.4%. Who suffered? The American consumers who were no longer able to buy foreign motorcycles cheaper. This is one of millions of examples that can be given where governmental interference in the market hurts the people when trying to protect the companies.

Maybe the most recent example of this is the current recession. When politicians start promising the voters that they will all be able to afford new houses, as if this was somehow the right of everyone, we should not be cheering, we should be suspicious. Because the housing market, like any other market, should be of no business of bureaucrats who know nothing of its system. So when the government started forcing banks to lower their cred-criteria, and lending money to people who couldn´t afford to pay it back, the market could not function and the bubble exploded, leaving us in this current mess.

What will happen if the market is allowed to function without the government trying to control it, then? Well, look at Hong Kong. The market has flourished and the people can take advantage of massive improvements in technology, health care, education and so forth. But why would we ever want politicians trying to control the market??? Ask yourself this:
You´re going to fly with an Airline. Who would you want to control whether or not it is safe to fly with that specific airline, a government bureaucrat who, if he makes mistakes might loose his job, or the people working for that Airline, who if they make a mistake will loose their lives, their loved ones and the reputations of that Airline? Who has most to gain or loose? This is how the market works, it is self-regulatory. Because companies are driven by self-interest, they are very sensitive to the interest of their customers, you and me. And that is how the market is moral!

All the best


  1. The first thing you really need to do is define your terms. Greed, as it is referred to by critics of capitalism does not refer to rational self interest. The dictionary defines it as: "Excessive or rapacious desire, esp. for wealth or possessions." Please note the words excessive and rapacious.

    Also, the word moral does not apply to a market. Morality refers to a specific code of conduct that most rational people choose to agree and adhere to in their daily conduct.

    The reason regulation exists is to counter the influence of irrational people; people who do not agree to the rules. Greed, being an excessive example, is a trait within humans that leads them to become irrational. Greed is essentially irrational. It is, by definition, excessive. Meaning that it has much to do with wanting more than we could possibly need.

    There is a difference between Bill Gates and a greedy person who desires nothing but money and will do anything to get it. Bill Gates was more into technology than money. He made a lot of money, but it was not his primary goal or fascination. For people whose primary fascination is the acquisition of wealth, we need concrete regulation. These sorts of people are disruptive to the markets.

    So, in future, you really should define your terms, or refer to some standard definitions. Thus, we will not make the mistake of referring to greed as a good. This is the attitude of the 80's, and the man who made the line famous "Greed is good" went to prison.

    Mark van Dyk

  2. *sigh* Dear Mark, I actually stopped taking you seriously when you started talking about Jesus and Buddha, but I feel I have to respond here, as others might think less of me if I don´t.

    Thanks for the dictionary definition of "greed", that was... Well, no need for sarcasm, just yet.

    See, the desire to acquire money is not enough. One has to provide customers with something they are willing to give up their money for, and the more you want the money, i.e the greedier you are, the better product you have to offer. What difference does it make what the motivation is? Your statement about Bill Gates is incorrect, as you would know if you had read Jeanne M. Lesinkis biography, but the point is that it doesn´t matter. Because one can, in an open, free market society, only acquire wealth through customer-satisfaction. So, the Invisible Hand of the Market is at work.

    Your statement about moral not being applicable to the market is so strange and wrong, I really don´t know if it is worth debunking, as most people would easily see the fallacy with the argument. But just for the sake of it, I will confront it. We agree that the market is run by people, don´t we? And you yourself claim that most people "agree and adhere to" moral behavious in their daily conduct. Do they abandon this when it comes to the market??? What´s your point? This is precisely WHY markets are moral, because people are moral. And if you have decided that the term cannot be applied to the market, I would suggest you contact all the Neo-Political Faculties that teach the Morality of the market and tell them that they are wasting their time. Good luck!
    Before you do that though, I recommend you type in "morals in the market" in google and read up on the subject.

    So, regulations are there so that it counters the irrational, greedy people? WOW! Where is your basis for this? Please, send me a link! I always thought regulations was about the governments wanting to acquire economical power, and it stemmed from bureacrats being unwilling or feeling threatened to loose power. But let´s see how MORAL your statement actually is! If we agree that most people are rational, then why punish them with regulations because of a few, as you call them, irrational people? Is that moral?
    Fact of the matter is that it is plain nonsense, and regulations have absolutely nothing to do with trying to counter for irrational or rational people. And whenever regulations have been lifted, people have gained from it, whenever they have been implemented, people have suffered.

    And greed is good, becuase the desire to acquire something leads to the productivity that results in wealth. And the more you want wealth, the better your product should be, and the cheaper it has to be. So we all gain from it.

    And as for Gordon Gekko, Michael Douglas classic character in 1987´s "Wall Street", going to prison, and he was the person who uttered the classic line... Well, Jesus said "Do to others what you would like them do to you" and he was murdered, so should we not do that? Intresting logic...

    Darius Aarya

  3. You ask why we have regulation. You say we shouldn't punish rational people because of a few irrational ones. Yet, this argument is ridiculous at best. We have laws in society for the very same reason. We have laws to protect the rational people from the irrational people. It is the exact same thing with market regulation.

    Now, to close, I would like to thank you for being such a condescending asshole. You don't even know how condescending you sound, I would guess, with your "sighs" and your "I don't take you seriously" statements. Good. At least we have it out in the open. Frankly, I think you are a complete twit with his head wedged firmly in the hole between his ass cheeks.

    It is precisely because people live with greed as a good that drive us into the problems we now face. And you comment about Gecko being murdered has absolutely nothing to do with any of the relevant points stated in the argument. You are so typically conservative it brings the bile to my lips. Your form of argumentation is to throw out completely random statements like "should we murder?" in order to garner agreement, thinking that this agreement somehow bolsters your overall argument, even though your argument is a pile if refuse.

    Talking to you is as meaningful as talking to a baboon, but not half as entertaining.

  4. *sigh* Dear Mark... Why so serious? First of all, I am not a conservative, and if you actually read some of the topics of the blog you have visited, you would realize how absurd the accusation is... FYI, I am a Libertarian.

    Well, actually laws and regulations aren´t at all similair. People with no intention of breaking the law is not affected by them, whereas anyone who runs a business is affected negatively by regualtions.

    Actually, it is not because people live with greed that we face the problems we are in right now. Not at all. It is because of regulations and bureaucratical interference with the market that we are where we are. Read up on it.

    And you really should read my statement about Gekko and Jesus again. I just show how your logic works when you wrote: "...and the person who said that went to prison."
    Jesus said we should treat others like we want to be treated, and he was murdered. Do you see my point? The point is that just because Gekko said "Greed is good" and then went to prison, doesn´t make the statement incorrect. So much for your logic...

    And I would like to thank you! You said that you wanted us to live like Jesus and Buddha taught, but look at your last reply. Seems like a bit far away from what Jesus preached... Hmmm.... Or is it just the people who agree with YOU that deserve to be treated friendly?
    So, when even you, who preach to me that we should be living in a certain way, can´t follow your own ideas, what does that say about the idea? Fact of the matter is, we don´t need to love eachother, we don´t need to be kind (although it would be nice with both of these), as long as we trade with eachother! No two democracies have ever fought a war against eachother. England and France hate eachothers guts, but they trade and they flourish under it.

    Finally, your insults really don´t bite on me (not only because they were extremely lame). If you can´t handle a debate when the person you debate doesn´t agree with what you say, and is better at arguing his/her points, maybe you should think twice before getting in to one? Instead of crying like a six year old schoolboy and insulting with the same linguistic capacity as one?