Tim Worstall introduced readers to the word “emporiophobia,” meaning the fear of markets. One reason it is so prevalent is that supporters of markets tend to talk about “competition,” whereas the essence of a market transaction is co-operation. The exchange takes placed willingly because each values what the other one has more than what they offer in return. It could also be that the English upper classes have traditionally disdained “trade” and regarded land management as an activity much more appropriate for gentlemen, when they were not hunting, shooting and fishing.
Markets have also had a bad press because they largely reward economic contributions rather than intellectual ones. Many writers and thinkers feel aggrieved that they are not given the high status and rewards that they think deserve. I think security is a factor, too, in that the outcomes of markets are uncertain and unpredictable, and leave people in fear of the harm that an unknown future might bring. There is a plausible theory that we are hard-wired to pay more attention to danger and bad news for good old survival reasons, meaning that predictions of doom and chaos will always command attention.
I, on the other hand, although a writer and to some extent a thinker, am happy putting more trust in markets than in meddlers. On the whole the greater numbers seem to get it right more often than the few on the central committee, and markets are quicker to recognize errors and take corrective action. Despite all the disasters I remain optimistic that the future will be better than the past. It will make more choices and more chances available to us and will present undreamed of opportunities. Unfortunately this does not make for nearly such a good story as imminent disaster does.
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