|Markets Are About Much More Than Material Goods
by Gary Galles on May 1, 2014, published by Mises Daily
Freedom in making economic arrangements does not directly address people’s ultimate, higher ends. But that is because they are internal to each individual. However, the same thing is true of all external expedients. None can directly advance higher ends, which cannot be imposed from without. However, freedom does advance the potential for greater achievement of those ends, by offering individuals the most effective means of removing scarcity’s impediments.
Think of time spent toward ultimate goals as time available, minus time spent on other concerns. The less time necessary to support oneself and one’s family, the more “ultimate time” is available. This is advanced by gains in productivity, for which freedom has no peer. When freedom is externally restricted, ultimate time must also be reduced by time “governors” spend trying to control, dictate, or enforce compliance on others and time the “governed” spend in complying with or evading those impositions. These diversions, which arise from every alternative to freedom, further detract from individuals’ ability to pursue their ultimate ends, while violating and corrupting morality by necessitating the use of harmful means.
In contrast to critics’ assertions, the worldly arrangements that freedom makes so much more productive do not distract individuals from advancing ultimate ends. They reduce the necessary distractions of earning a living. By reducing that inescapable toll on our efforts, freedom is not a substitute for those ends, but a complement to them, enabling them to be more effectively attained.
Economic freedom also requires that our efforts that allow us to advance toward our ultimate ends simultaneously advances others’ prospects for achieving their ultimate ends. Coercion, in contrast, advances one’s ultimate ends at the expense of others’ efforts in the same direction.
Gary M. Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University. He is the author of The Apostle of Peace: The Radical Mind of Leonard Read. Send him mail. See Gary Galles’s article archives.