Markets Can Be Natural

In Chapter One of his book, Economics without Illusions (2009), Joseph Heath argues that markets cannot exist merely on the basis of self-interest. Referring to the prisoner’s dilemma and collective action problems, Heath argues that the “free rider problem” clearly undermines the three foundations of the market: property, exchange, and contract. “Why plant your own…
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Community beyond Charity

Many people associate the volunteer, community, or independent sector, aka civil society, far too much with merely charity. This sets up a reductionist dichotomy between (1) “selfish” activity–understood in the narrow sense of revenue maximization–that takes place within the market and (2) “altruistic” activity–whereby the gift giver gains little or no money or utility–that takes…
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J. S. G. Boggs On Money

From the linked article . . . “Like Duchamp, Boggs documents conceptions of value that inform the art world, and investigates how worth comes into being (even though enlightenment about these matters can hardly be expected). Furthermore, he plays with economic systems as if they were children’s toys, like Duchamp did with the institutions of…
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Household Production, Satellite National Income Accounts, and The Limits of Extended Gross Domestic Product

Gary Becker’s original household production function yields a four-tier classification of goods and services. The highest–that is, the fourth–tier includes “basic commodities”, which I prefer to label *abstract goods*, that enter directly into the utility function. These include things such as “entertainment” or “companionship”. The third tier includes non-market concrete goods and activities, such as…
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Challenge vs. Status Quo

Referring to the independent sector and the whole of civil society as though it we merely another aspect of the ‘market’ has both a substantive downside and a rhetorical downside. The substantive downside is that equating the independent sector and the whole of civil society with the market encourages reducing all voluntary relations to merely…
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Ayn Rand on Love

Mike Wallace: Should husbands and wives tally up, Ayn, at the end of the day and say, “Well now, wait a minute, I love her if she’s done enough for me today, or she loves me if . . . if I’ve properly performed my functions . . .” Ayn Rand: Oh, no, you misunderstood…
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Hannah Arendt on Property vs. Wealth

— Proudhon’s dictum that property is theft has a solid basis of truth in the origins of modern capitalism; it is all the more significant that even Proudhon hesitated to accept the doubtful remedy of general expropriation, because he knew quite well that the abolition of private property, while it might cure the evil of…
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