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A Student Voice: Markets and morality

June 6, 2023

By Majestik Dudley

Markets, big or small, are made up of decision makers. When a market is characterized as a free market, that means it meets a certain criteria, including limited government intervention and the voluntary and peaceful exchange of private property rights. 

I recently read a piece by Dr. Walter E. Williams, a modern American economist, entitled “Markets, Government, and the Common Good.” He writes that liberals denounce the free market as immoral. But this could not be further from the truth, and Dr. Williams goes as far as to say that free markets are more moral than any other market. Free markets require that you serve your fellow man before you can have access to what your fellow man provides. In my own estimation, that is a far better exchange morally than having the government take what someone produces and distribute it to others who haven’t done anything to serve the community. This strengthens the point of view that a free market is a moral one.

The portion of Dr. Williams’ article that interested me the most was in regard to the “Wonders of Greed,” which states what drives humans to get the most things done is not compassion or a sense of duty, but greed. Greed is what gets the potato farmers in Idaho up every morning so that New Yorkers can have french fries. Greed is what makes the assembly line workers in Detroit show up every day so that we can all have cars. Greed is what makes cattle ranchers down in Texas take such good care of their animals so that New Yorkers will keep buying their beef to put on the shelves. At least that is what this article would have you believe. My father is a factory worker; does greed and bettering his own situation keep him going to work every day? Yes, that is probably part of it. However, I know there is more to it than that. There is a sense of duty to his community and country that makes him clock-in every day. There is a pride aspect that won’t allow him to not do an honest day’s work. 

Yes, there is “greed,” but there is so much more that drives humans to do wonderful things.

While I may not agree totally with greed driving humans to do everything, I am definitely on board with Dr. Williams’ assertation that my dollar is just as valuable as Bill Gates’ dollar. Dr. Williams says: “The market is an extreme form of democracy: One man, one vote. While the rich have many more dollars than I have, my one dollar is just as valuable as a rich man’s one dollar. One might assert that common people do not have access to Rolls-Royces and yachts. You would be wrong.  Microsoft’s Bill Gates is super-rich and can afford to ride in a Rolls-Royce and go yachting; but so, can the common man — just not as long. He can rent a Rolls or a yacht for a day, half-day or an hour.”  

People often forget that individuals like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and more made their fortune — they weren’t born into it. And, they are no more or less special than me or you. 

So, the same market that initally made them millionaires is available to the same people screaming that the market is unfair. There isn’t a separate set of rules for people with less money; some understand the rules better than others, making it easier to successfully navigate the market.

Free markets are not immoral. Like any system, it has its flaws, but it is fair and gives everyone within the system the same chance at success. Government regulations should be passed and enforced to protect the free market — not to manipulate it to the advantaged or disadvantaged. Doing so jeopardizes the morality of a free market. 

ABOUT THIS AUTHOR

Majestik Dudley is a junior from Saginaw, Michigan, where he graduated from Heritage High School. Outside of the classroom, Majestik is a defensive back on the Northwood University Football Team.

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