Why Do We Do It?

One of the questions I get asked a lot (and I know other free-marketers do, too) is “why do you focus so much on minimum wage, especially when its effects are so small?”  It’s a good question, especially considering time is a scarce resource.  The reason is simple: somebody needs to stand up for liberty and to hinder the proliferation of these bad ideas.

What attracted me to economics in general, and free markets in particular, is its ability to do good in the world.  I fight for free markets and liberty in general not for their own sake (“liberty for liberty’s sake” is an empty phrase), but because no system in the history of mankind has delivered more people out of poverty, ended/prevented more wars, reduced violence, bigotry, hatred, and sexism more than free markets and trade.  The record of history is crystal clear on this matter. In market-based economies, people of all income levels live better and more peacefully than those of the supposedly “peace and love” socialist economies like Venezuela, Argentina, and the old USSR. In the past 30 years, as markets globally have become more liberalized, hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty.  It is truly amazing.

But it is a long and ongoing struggle.  When Adam Smith first wrote Wealth of Nations back in 1776, even he doubted his ideas of free markets would ever become popular.  Slowly but surely they did, and in 1846, Britain took its first steps toward this by repealing the Corn Laws.  His ideas then dominated much of the economic world for a century, until John Maynard Keynes came into the picture.  Keynes ideas took a while to get off the ground, too.

The point of all this is I spend my time fighting these battles so these poor ideas, such as minimum wage, do not become entrenched again.  It is an uphill fight.  I may not see it come to fruition, but if I, and others like me who fight this good fight, who seek to make the world a better place through human cooperation and mutual trust, then the light of hope remains.  There have been times when the light of freedom has been dim and times when it has been bright, but no matter what, its keepers have kept the flame alit.  The torch has been handed down from generation to generation, and soon it’ll be my turn to bear it.  It won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.

Keep up the good fight, friends.