Happy birthday, Frédéric and Tom!
Happy birthday to two of the finest economic minds of all time. Their belief in the power of free markets is also a belief in the power of individual people, of individual freedom. What else can you call "freedom" but the ability to control your own life so long as you do not harm others?
I was thinking this morning that no collectivist society has ever approached the prosperity, let alone freedom, of free markets. The "poor" in a free market society have far more opportunity than the wealthiest members of a collectivist one. Except, of course, for the corrupt few at the top of the collectivist pyramid. Ironically, they are always more "elite" (higher than the typical person) and fewer in number than the so-called "bourgeoisie." Even at the Soviet Empire's height, breadlines were still the norm, yet no high official faced starvation. Execution, yes, if he didn't pull the Party's line, but survival (at everyone else's expense) was no danger.
The key word is "opportunity." A free market by itself doesn't guarantee that a people will be prosperous, but at least you have a chance, and that chance is based on what you put into it. If you have any ambition and talent, you can make your own instead of waiting for others to give it to you. Years ago, I was taught, by a man who I came to love like a father, that it's not just about working hard, but about working smart. It's the same principle by which the Scriptures tells us that God gives different abilities (in both variety and magnitude) to each person: are you going to use them to the maximum possible extent, or will you be like the poor servant who hid his?
I'm off for the Fourth of July weekend. Everybody take care, and be sure to root for Brazil tomorrow!