Fostering Hope

Why do people go to work?  Why do people risk everything to start businesses?  Why do people trade?

The answer to all three is the same: to make their lives better off.  People work to improve their lot in life, to increase their children’s chances of living well, or many other reasons.  Since markets allow for wealth to be created and traded, since freedom allow people to sell at the very least their labor, markets indirectly foster hope.

I suppose this could be why, when a person or government wishes to seize power over people’s lives, they target markets first.  Crushing hope is key for anyone who wants to retain power.  People with hope are capable of amazing things (look at the Resistance movements in Nazi-Occupied Europe, for example).  Those in power often try to substitute the hope markets provide with dependency upon the government.  I fear this is quite evident in some of the propaganda used by both the Left (“If not for government, who would build the roads?”) and the Right (“If not for government, who would protect us from invaders/terrorists?”).  That dependency is then parlayed into all manner of things that should be personal decisions: retirement, health care, education, food service, etc etc.  As government expands and expands, it restricts more and more hope and replaces it with more and more dependency.  And with that dependency comes complacency.  I suspect this is largely why government-run economies and societies stagnate.

Despite what some may argue, people are not dependent upon firms, even monopolies.  Every action in a market economy is voluntary.  If one doesn’t like the terms offered, one can always walk away.  One could go completely “off-the-grid” if he wanted.  Conversely, government cannot tolerate such actions.  Government exists only because of dependency, and therefore it must enforce it, either by carrot (“free” health care) or by stick (throw you in jail for not paying taxes).

3 thoughts on “Fostering Hope

  1. “markets indirectly foster hope.”

    Good phrase. Original? If so, good on ya! If not, it is worth repeating for sure.


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