Basic Economics, Basic Morality

Economic growth depends on division of labor. Division of labor depends on freedom of trade. Freedom of trade depends on, in the words of Adam Smith, “the obvious and simple system of natural liberty.”
So writes P.J. O’Rourke in a column for the Weekly Standard about Adam Smith’s lesser known book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. If the economic system in America depends on liberty, should we not imagine that it is moral? But we don’t. And very few even understand why it works.
How could tax cuts actually lead to higher tax revenues? Taxes discourage productive work and move investment from the private to the public sector – reducing taxes leads to higher private sector growth, higher wages and higher profits – which, taxed at the lower rate, still bring in more tax revenue. It is so simple, but it means thinking about the economy over time, as a dynamic system, not as a static state. This is something that many economists forgot after Smith.
So, as some politicians preach morality in anti-market economics, saying that “we need to do right by hard-working Americans and raise the minimum wage,” rational thinking men should re-open their Adam Smith texts and remember the morality of markets. As other states push through higher minimum wages, New Mexico should steadfastly refuse to make the same mistake. The simplistic thinking of minimum wage advocates reveals itself in absurd hypocrisies – such as advocates of minimum wage hikes asking to be exempt because it would cause the same layoffs that they claim the minimum wage doesn’t cause!
Instead, New Mexico should lower taxes, encourage business and wage growth, and take pride in our moral and free market system.

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One Reply to “Basic Economics, Basic Morality”

  1. In addition, exchanges in markets are totally voluntary. Government interference in markets involves coercion that prevents voluntary exchange. What right does the government have to prevent voluntary exchange? It is the prevention of voluntary exchange that is immoral.

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