Free markets foster peace

Free markets foster peace

Be skeptical of that statement, I implore you.

But consider with an open mind what University of Chicago economist and Nobel Prize-winner Milton Friedman said about the virtue of a system in which individuals are free to buy and sell what their fellows–in their neighborhood or across the world–have to offer:

"The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another."

Think about that the next time you say thank you to the person who hands you your burrito or morning cup of coffee in exchange for your money. And think about it when the barista says "thank you" in return. You probably wouldn't talk to that person otherwise, but because you each have something the other wants more than what they have to exchange, you are practicing politeness with them (and they with you).

This works locally and globally.

However, the opportunities for peaceful coexistence diminish when the federal government subsidizes American-made goods (making them relatively less expensive than goods from China or elsewhere) or blocks goods from overseas from entering the U.S. The fewer American dollars in the hands of the Chinese, the fewer customers there are for the goods and services we offer.

So let's celebrate trade with all corners of the earth! Let's use the power of free choice to not only buy exotic or inexpensive things, but also to spread our values to other lands (and learn of theirs). Let's allow the combined choices of everybody to set the prices for the things we buy so that these very things are available to the people who need them most. Let's buy things from others faraway to demonstrate we are valuable to each other regardless of how we might feel if we were to meet on the street.

And maybe, after a while doing this, we can all get along a bit better.

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    Richard Lorenc

    Libertarian (classical liberal), entrepreneur, big cat enthusiast, Apple-head, Trekkie, double bass player. Director of Programs and Alumni Relations for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), the first free market organization in the country, whose mission is to inspire, educate, and connect young people to the ideas that make free societies successful. Former chairman of the Chicago chapter of America's Future Foundation, a group developing intellectual leadership among young professionals.

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