The Ethics of Free Marketeers

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“If men were angels, no government would be necessary”. James Madison
Madison went on to say that government must be controlled and limited for the same reason (government men are also not angels). So, the tension between freedom and government is established, and is often defined by the extremes of the fundamentally dishonest from whom government must protect us, and the arrogantly abusive government officer from whom we also need protection. The best solution is “ordered liberty”: the minimum government regulation needed to maximize freedom, equality and opportunity.

But, the extent of the regulation can be minimized, if we decrease the need for regulation by maximizing the level of honesty, integrity, and fair dealing and a commitment to looking at the big picture and the long term in the business world. And, since we acknowledge that both “non-angels” & “angels” exist, we must create more angels by:

  1. demonstrating the long term personal benefits of honest business activity,
  2. identifying and celebrating business owners who follow the highest ideals, (the Free MarketEErs), and
  3. finally urging others to emulate them.

The more Free MarketEEr “angels” there are, the less need for government regulation. (We don’t present this as paradise on earth and certainly don’t expect government will “wither away”, but maximum prosperity can result.)

Having identified how Free MarketEErs benefit us all, the question arises: How are they created; is there a commonality of upbringing or core beliefs that they share? If there is, that environment should be encouraged. While the definitive study remains to be done, there appears to be a commonality of core beliefs instilled by religious and humanist traditions of humility, kindness, work, and frugality while presenting concern for others as desirable. And, we should not be shy about exposing today’s government and business leaders who ARE NOT Free MarketEErs:

  1. career politicians who promote regulations that only allow the well-connected to prosper,
  2. trial attorneys, who encourage litigation, which discourages entrepreneurs
  3. union bosses who betray their members, while salting away great wealth for themselves,
  4. corporate executives who reward themselves despite doing great damage to their companies, and
  5. con-men who use the veil of free markets to hide their thievery.

Finally, once we cleanse the business world of its worst practitioners, our identification and celebration of Free MarketEErs will both put us on the side of “the angels”, the people and freedom – a potent combination. And, in the final analysis, just one guide is necessary to maximize the benefits of commerce for all – the Golden Rule – treat others the way you want to be treated.