Saturday, June 19, 2010

Free Markets in Biology and Economics

The following is intended for rabid free-market, but super-religious, American social conservative types.

One of the fantastic things about free-market economies is that the additive decisions of millions of self-interested individuals can sum up to a system that benefits everyone. That's the amazing thing about the self-organizing principle of markets: that labor and land and scarcity can reliably communicate themselves over immense distances without anybody "steering" the process from some central politburo, that in fact when people try, they screw it up. It's neatly self-regulating too: if there are competing interests, the more efficient one triumphs and its methods spread, and over time the market improves, wealth grows, and everyone benefits. What's more, these principles are universal. They hold whether you're talking about precious metal contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange next week, or Yahi Indians trading salt and obsidian along the Siskiyou Trail in pre-Columbian times. They're not dependent on what any culture or government claims about their truth - they're measurably true or measurably false everywhere, and if people don't like it, too bad. They're still true or false.

We usually recognize these principles in economics but you can observe them elsewhere in nature too. If it's so easy to see the beauty in a free-market economy that doesn't require central planning and in fact functions much better without it, why would biology need a central politburo in the form of a designer? Why should free market principles suddenly not apply when we turn to biology? Are these principles really that fragile and provincial?

3 comments:

Teleprompter said...

God obviously isn't in charge of the economy, or why would we be having a recession?

If God is over-leveraged and goes bankrupt, do I get possession of God? Or do I lend God the money and get stuck with the bill?

Michael Caton said...

God's credit is getting worse and worse. If you loan Him money you must be a sub-prime lender.

TGP said...

Clearly, if we want to involve God in the economy, we need to start taxing churches. Right now, God has no dog in this fight.