Saturday, June 14, 2014

Donald, Adam, Milton & Will

Unlike Will Rogers, I have met a number of men who I did not like.  Perhaps Will did not get out much.

I’ve never met Donald Sterling but I get it.  He’s a jerk.  He’s said some nasty and objectionable things.

Nonetheless Donald Sterling, as an NBA owner, has run a business that has turned dozens of African Americans into millionaires.  Despite what he may or may not really feel about people of African ancestry, he realizes that to run a credible basketball enterprise he must employ top notch talent.  In the basketball business that talent is overwhelmingly Black.  Sir Charles is correct when he says that the NBA “is a Black league”.

Donald’s case is a sterling example of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”.  By selfishly pursuing his own interest, Sterling inadvertently helped many Black men become rich.  He wasn’t dumb enough to staff his roster with a bunch of suckey white stiffs.  Smith discovered that while an individual strives for his own enrichment,

"He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it ... He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for society that it was no part of his intention. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.”

Let’s consider the reverse situation.  The apparatchiks of the American welfare state have lots of warm and fuzzy things to say about minorities.  Yet nearly fifty years ago the liberal Democrat, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, sounded the alarms that the welfare system was destroying African American families and communities.  And even under the auspices of America’s first Black President, the fortunes of Americans have continued to erode.  This was forcefully pointed out NAACP president, Benjamin Jealous.  Nearly 250 years ago Smith saw that government meddling caused nothing but hardship.  “I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good."   

This does not excuse Sterling’s gaffs.  However, it begs the question of who would you prefer to have in your corner – the a-hole who makes you millions or the nice guy who bankrupts you? 

Milton Friedman nailed it when he wrote that, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”  Our supposedly compassionate welfare state only aggravates the plight of the economic underclass. In addition is stokes resentment among taxpayers and recipients alike.  

The market brings people together who may not like each other.  However they soon learn to cooperate and make exchanges for mutual benefit.

We can never know what is in a man’s soul.  That’s between him and his Maker or his shrink.  However, we do know that the free market rewards those who serve their neighbors well and who do the best job of creating satisfaction for customers.

A nation of happy consumers and prosperous pleasers is good enough for me.  To return to Mr. Smith, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” 

Unlike Will Rogers, these merchants need not like us nor we them.  Businesses sell to us because they want our money.  We give them money because we want meat, bread and brewskies. 

The collectivist, however, wants much more than burgers, bread and brew.  He wants your heart, you mind and your soul.  He cares little for your material well being.

Recognition of our interdependence is what enables flawed, limited and even stupid men, such as this writer, and women to cooperate freely and prosper harmoniously. 



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