Public goods and laissez-faire capitalism

“Laissez-faire capitalism” our father would say, “is about economic freedom”.

My only problem with this is that it is “simplistic” and like all things simple, there must be a hitch. “Freedom” has a cost even if that cost is not economic.

How does one count the cost of freedom then, if it is not economic? is it a matter of personal sacrifice, a curtailment of personal freedoms in exchange for a public good? What is a public good?

A public good is a shared space produced by negotiated consensus. A public good, should not, in theory, be available for purchase. It often is however, and herein lies the problem.

A public good can either be preserved (a typically “conservative” idea) or it can be enhanced (typically a liberal, “progressive” idea).

The first cost of the public good is the “social cost” of maintaining a commons: personal freedoms are exchanged for “access” rights to the commons, and “access” has no price. The “cost” of freedom then, is the “value of public access”.

If there is a value inherent in man, it is the value created through freedom and choice. What are my choices if a neighbor or family member suffers from a want that I might somehow mitigate? What could possibly be the value of my freedom then?

While Americans, and before them, Europeans were out pursuing manifest destiny and “national exception”, amassing wealth through capitalistic enterprise, ensuring our survival as a species of humanity, the rest of the world could only watch and concede superior force.

Today the momentum is shifting.

Trust, mistrust, worldview, teleos… so many words of justification.

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