Arnold Kling  

Tom Palmer on Markets

The Proactionary Principle... Mental Health...

He writes

Market competition is decidedly unlike the competition of the jungle. In the jungle animals compete to eat each other, or to displace each other. In the market, entrepreneurs and firms compete with each other for the right to cooperate with consumers and with other entrepreneurs and firms. Market competition is not competition for the opportunity to live; it is competition for the opportunity to cooperate.

Thanks to Tyler Cowen for the pointer.

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CATEGORIES: Economic Philosophy

COMMENTS (2 to date)
cg writes:

I have to disagree it is more like a jungle than it may appear to be from the surface. After all it's a dog eat dog world out there! Hostile corporate take overs, disasters like Enron where 1000 of families were displaced, insider trading, overstating assets in order seem more pleasing to investors: these are all examples of the modern day plight of living in our concrete jungle, either you find your place in it or find yourself prey.

Michael Sullivan writes:

At bottom, until you've gotten to a certain level in the hierarchy, it *is* a competition to live. If you don't have any accumulated capital, nor any skill that someone will pay you to exercise (IOW, you've really lost big in the competition for "cooperation") -- in the absence of charity or government intervention you're going to starve to death.

Markets abstract this competition into a less immediately deadly realm, and in the process make it possible for many more people to "win" and generally create enough wealth so that many fewer people (God willing, eventually none) end up starving to death. That said, they don't change the essential nature of the competition for survival.

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