Pro-social Exchange

Some people, claiming to be “anarchists,” virulently oppose voluntary exchanges because, well, hierarchy and stuff. They conceive a world where every anarchist lives in his mother’s basement, or perhaps on a bit of turf appropriated from the landlordz, and food and water magically appear whenever the “anarchist” wannabes stretch forth their hands, Garden of Eden style.

The Garden of Eden would be an excellent model for a hunter-gatherer society, except that hunter-gatherers actually do have to walk about, pick up food or kill food, make food edible, and so forth. It is unclear whether these “anarchist” wannabes contemplate ever having to do anything which so closely resembles actual work – or from what sort of magic tree they expect to pluck their iPhones.

If anyone is anti-social, it would be those who think that society “owes” them a living, without any effort on their part. That said, “what about the poor?” Real pro-social people find ways to take care of the poor, without imagining that everyone is “owed” a living. Invalids and the disabled are exceptions, not the norms upon which a functioning society is built.

Since your food and drink do not appear from a Magic Cornucopia, society needs to value those who produce things – who make goods and services appear. People like, you know, capitalists. If you want to blather about capitalism to any audience further than the range of your big mouth, you need the assistance of a capitalist or several. You’ll need a capitalist to put together chip fabrication plants; to reserve funds for workers of all sorts, long before the production can be sold. Capitalists wait for return on investment; the rest of us usually have too little capital to do so.

I get the angst about central bankers – I was saying “end the Fed” while these wannabes were not yet a gleam in their father’s eye. The problem is not with money per se; nor with bankers per se; the problem is that these central bankers are a legal monopoly, a cartel; they are able to monkey with interest rates and the level of credit because they are allowed by law to rule the roost; no alternatives are permitted by the government. (See the Liberty Dollar case for an example of what happens to the competition.)

But the wannabes, seeing that government corrupts this particular form of money – central bank-issued fiat currency – wish to ban all money, in their indiscriminate, uninformed rage. When people are left free to choose their own forms of money, they tend to choose forms which do not lose 95% of their value during the lifetime of the Federal Reserve. They tend to choose something more stable, less easily manipulated; they tend to choose not to have it controlled by a government-mandated monopoly.

Such free choices couldn’t be tolerated, so FDR mandated that non-paper money – that is, gold coinage – be surrendered to the federal government. Money in its own right serves several important functions; it is a convenient means of exchanging value for value; it can be saved and deployed when need arises; it can serve as a unit of account, the better to manage one’s enterprises; it facilitates voluntary exchanges. Voluntary exchanges are as pro-social as it gets. Each party to an exchange benefits, as a rule.

Yes, I know about information asymmetry. None of your proposed “solutions” solve that problem either. As a general rule of thumb, people benefit when they make voluntary exchanges. This is a pro-social activity. It has enabled people around the world to increase their standard of living 300-fold in a few generations. To stop the process of voluntary exchange is to revert to a much, much more limited economy – a Venezuela-style economy where long lines are created by socialist policies, and the only “solution” proposed is to arrest shopkeepers as if they were criminals.

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