Markets aren’t Miraculous; God Bless the World
December 2020: I read this essay and added commentary for Episode 440 of the Everything Voluntary podcast.
Markets, or the array of exchanges of property between individuals and groups, are responsible for the rising standard of living enjoyed by human beings all across the world. To the extent that markets are free to develop, people’s needs are easier met and conflicts over scarce resources are reduced. I’m guilty of describing these amazing effects of markets as “miraculous”. I wrote a few entries in a “Miracles of the Market” series back in 2009.
But I was wrong to ever describe anything the market does as a miracle or as miraculous. Why? Because the positive effects of markets broadly described above do not depend on any sort of divine intervention, and its totally ridiculous to say that they do. Rather, they are the natural result of individuals and groups engaging in market action. No divine explanation necessary.
What may require divine intervention, however, is increasing the knowledge that people have about the importance of keeping markets free, of allowing voluntary trade among consenting individuals and groups to happen however the participants involved see fit. What people need is a better understanding of rational economics, first, and second, to explore normative claims that free markets are good for people.
I don’t know if there is a God [sic], but assuming for a moment there is, I say, “God bless the world” with a better understanding of what it takes to help people meet their needs easier and reduce conflict over scarce resources. “God bless the world” to stop its violent prohibition of voluntary trade among consenting individuals and groups. “God bless the world” to stop its campaigns of terror among innocent people. “God bless the world” to stop traumatizing its children and perpetuating the cycle of abuse. “God bless the world” to one day develop the technology to permanently make the state obsolete.
Markets don’t need God’s blessing, but humanity sure seems to.