Strategy teaches that everyone is always seeking to improve their position. One of the most repeat lines in The Art of War
is, "Everyone uses the art of war." By this, Sun Tzu didnâ€™t mean that everyone used his particular methods, but that everyone is always looking for personal competitive advantage and that we have to remember this when analyzing every situation.
The particular brilliance of the American free market system is that the market harnesses everyone's innate desire to advance his or her position for the benefit of society as a whole. More often than not, those who promote â€œthe common goodâ€ outside of the market, undermine the benefits of the system for their own self interest by using government coercion. A great sexample is given by one of my favorite economists, Thomas Sowell, in this article
, where he says:
Although socialism has long claimed to be for the poor, it has probably done more damage, on net balance, to the poor than to the rich.
Later he gives the following example:
The rich have learned to adapt socialist policies to their own benefit. For example, the city of Riviera Beach, Florida, is planning to demolish a working class neighborhood under its power of eminent domain, in order to prepare the way for a marina for yachts, luxury condominiums and an upscale shopping district.
He ends by saying:
For example, the "open space" laws that have spread across the country to protect upscale communities represent one of the biggest collectivizations of land since the days of Josef Stalin.
Upscale residents say that they have a right to protect "our community." But not even the rich own the whole community.
They own what they paid for -- their own individual property. But they get the government to collectivize the often vastly larger surrounding property, in order to keep the unwashed masses from settling near them and spoiling their views.
Moreover, they wrap themselves in the mantle of idealism while doing this and denounce the "selfishness" of those who would stoop to building homes or apartments to house others, just to make money.
"Developer" is a cuss word to those who wax indignant in their righteous zeal to keep other people out. Why can't these money-grubbing developers just inherit money, like so many of the upscale idealists?
Meanwhile, back in the working class neighborhood in Riviera Beach, it is being defended legally by the Institute for Justice, one of the few "public interest" organizations that deserve the name.
Only in a free market are people forced to achieve their own goals by satisfying the needs of individuals throughout the social strata. Those who attack the free market system are not less greedy. Their problem is that they cannot accomplish their goals by satisfying individuals' needs. They need coercion to accomplish their goals, which requires the force of government. As often as not, these people are â€œthe rich,â€ who have already satisfied their material needs through the free market. Having gotten all they can from the system, they turn on it. Using their wealth to undermine it and turn government to the benefit of their particular social projects.