Over at Cafe Hayek, Don Boudreaux writes about a common slur we free-market supporters get called: shills for Big Business. Don does an excellent job discussing how ridiculous such mudslinging is, so I’d like to discuss a tangentially related point: motive.
On top of being called shills, we’re often told we either don’t care about the poor (or, worse, are actively trying to oppress or hinder the poor) by opposing various “Progressive” welfare actions such as minimum wage, protectionist trade tariffs, or immigration restriction and the like.
The reality, however, is quite different. We oppose these schemes because we, like many other economists including those on the Left, believe they to be counter to the poor’s well-being. Our arguments are not that we hate the poor, that they just should be happy with their lot in life, or any other strawmen our accusers like to erect, but because we genuinely believe that free trade is the best mode to help the poor, or that minimum wage will make it harder for the poor to get a job. It’s all about achieving the desired results, not just intending to.
To conclude this post, allow me to quote from one of my favorite bloggers and economists, Steve Horwitz: “I’m a libertarian because I do care about the poor and I don’t care how good your intentions are.”