Long live free markets

To the editor:Recently, the free market has been blamed for every ill but pimples and dandruff. It’s a bad rap. The fact is, the free market routinely performs miracles. It should be celebrated rather than attacked.I just returned from my favorite grocery chain, and as we Americans have come to expect, there were aisles and aisles of every grocery you’d ever want. These choices were made possible by the competitive free market.For fun, I counted the types and sizes of cold cereal. There were 275 choices. Imagine! I could choose my favorite; others could choose theirs. Each of us could have it “our way.” I was happy. They were happy.What could be a better than that?Choice is the centerpiece of freedom, and as we know, the greatest mechanism for creating choice is the competitive free market — a free exchange between willing buyers and willing sellers. No one is forced to buy. No one is forced to produce. No central planning committee dictates the types of cereal to make. No politician chooses our cereal for us.The mysterious force powering this mechanism was self-interest, the chance to make a profit. There was no government “Minister of Cold Cereal.” There was no need for a cereal five-year plan. Self-interest did the job — without the need for “a boss.” Only Adam Smith’s “invisible hand,” the chance to make a profit, pushed companies to make the cereal. That’s it.Private companies prosper by catering to us, by making us happy. They serve themselves by serving us. They provide what we want when we want it. Nobody forces them, and yet it happens. I get what I want. You get what you want. Each of us chooses according to our tastes and preferences. We custom-tailor our own lives. The competitive free market system makes it possible.The next time you hear the free market being blamed for our ills, think how important it is to our lives. It should be celebrated rather than maligned. It’s a crucial part of our freedom and way of life. Free markets are as American as apple pie. Long live free markets!

Paul Pinette

Categories: Cook on Concord