Saturday, October 27, 2007

Going on about Markets

I just read an inspiring article on Catholic Exchange, regarding the growth and recovery of Liberia after being so thoroughly devastated by civil war. But the thought that it brought to mind was so far off-topic that I decided to post about it here instead. Here are the pertinent paragraphs:

Dickson is back in Sinoe assessing communities for agro-enterprise, which helps farmers find markets so they can increase their income. It's a field that he believes has the potential to lift Liberia out of poverty.

Dickson can't stop talking about agro-enterprise. He gets so excited his voice — in that beautiful, lilting Liberian English -- grows loud. He raves about its possibilities, about how it can heal Liberia.

"Our concentration has been on production," he says. "Agriculture should take a new direction with agro-enterprise, which is geared toward increasing not just production, but income."

Help farmers find markets. Not just production, but income. We see here a fatal blow to one of Karl Marx's many fallacies: that work is all that matters. It isn't enough to work hard. It isn't even enough to have great production. What is produced must get to people who want it and will use it, or it is worthless and a waste of time and other limited resources. In fact, because it is a waste of resources, it is destructive. Free markets do this with unrivaled efficiency. Command economies, be they socialist, fascist, or communist, do this poorly, if at all.

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