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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16484/meet-my-benefactor/

Meet My Benefactor

April 14, 2011 by

I happened to sit down next to a man last week who has been my benefactor for my entire life and the large part of his, and yet we had never met. In fact, though he has been serving me faithfully for three decades, looking after my well-being and trying to improve my standard of living, he didn’t even know my name.

FULL ARTICLE by Jeffrey A. Tucker


GGallman April 14, 2011 at 9:18 am

It is good to see this article. I live near an ExxonMobile Plastics plant near Baker, Louisiana that makes this material. About 1 or 2 years ago I attended an Informational Tour in which they discussed this product. It is amazing what unrestricted creativity can do. And it is bewildering what government can prevent.
Thank you for your observations.

augusto April 14, 2011 at 9:43 am

Great article!

I wish I had realized earlier in life that what I liked was to travel – I could have oriented my studies and experience to get a job travelling around to sell things. And then one day George Clooney would impersonate me on a movie!

Paul Marks April 14, 2011 at 9:45 am

A very good article – apart from the reference to the George Clooney movie.

Chris April 14, 2011 at 10:06 am

Excellent. We could also call these guys (and their counterparts in all of the other strange and wonderful industries that people don’t give a second thought to) “The Invisible Hands”.

I’ve spent most of my career in the power generation industry. Specifically, I’ve worked in the “steam generation” side of the power generation industry – oil, gas, coal and nuclear (as well as industrial applications at paper mills). The article applies to our industry as well: we know the players, the technologies, the language of products and techniques, and we operate in a relatively insular (and sometimes apparently incestuous) world. And when we tell people that we “make products that make high pressure steam” we get blank looks and often, “Why?”

Thanks for a great essay about “people like us”.

Martial Artist April 14, 2011 at 10:07 am

Mr. Tucker,

What a marvelous article illustrating how the market is, collectively, the benefactor of all, and doing so in a way that personalizes the process and the result for the hearer. May I have your permission to qoute it, and/or link to it on other fora?

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

Jeffrey Tucker April 14, 2011 at 10:23 am


Aaron April 14, 2011 at 10:12 am

Well-written article again on the Mises Blog.

I was waiting for the “You down with OPP?” song reference in the article. I hope I wasn’t the only one thinking that.

I always enjoy the “behind the music” articles.


Horst Muhlmann April 14, 2011 at 11:30 am

Heh. That’s the first thing that came to mind. I guess our benefactors are Naughty By Nature

andy April 14, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Yeah, you know me.

Ohhh Henry April 14, 2011 at 10:15 am

In this context, it is interesting to consider the disaster caused by Sun Chips when they switched to politically-correct, but pointless, “bio-degradable” bags. The product was so loud that I think it must have killed their sales. I know that in my house, after the first “eco bag” nobody has bought the chips since.

Knowing the cuckoo, upside-down world of fake environmentalism, probably the reasonable people who argued against the noisy bag, people like Tucker’s friendly OPP marketer, are the ones who lost their jobs whereas the clowns who perpetrated the disaster are probably still ensconced in their bunker, err, in PepsiCo HQ.

And if that isn’t bad enough, according to wikipedia,

SunChips are now being made using solar power at a manufacturing facility in Modesto, California, one of eight locations where SunChips snacks are made.

And you wonder why California is going broke?

Gil April 15, 2011 at 3:42 am

As opposed to what? “Real Environmentalism?”

Ohhh Henry April 14, 2011 at 10:31 am

P.S. the reason why I think that the bag is completely pointless is that there was a team of archaeologists who excavated a decades-old landfill near a large city and reported that very little had broken down and decomposed, including the biodegradable material like paper. They said that there was a sharply-defined layer of off-white occurring every year like a tree ring, due to phone books being discarded. So who cares if chip bags are biodegradable? It’ll take them many decades or centuries to decompose into methane, or turn into coal, or whatever. And in the meantime it’s only landfill.

Stan Warford April 14, 2011 at 10:33 am

Great article! I predict that this story will not be incorporated in any public school curriculum.

Eric April 14, 2011 at 10:47 am

Tucker does a great job here of illustrating the near-magical properties of the free market. I wish it’s centerpiece was something other than potato chips, though, because IMO, chips are an example of a failure of economics (and of economists to recognize it).

Economists generally assume that people are making rational choices. In fact, we crave salt, fat, sugar, and other carbs because during the long course of our evolution, they were in short supply. Now they are abundant, and for those of us for whom the battle of the bulge is fought on a daily basis, our cravings are anything but rational.

In my opinion, we’d be better off as a society with chips that weren’t so tempting. From this point of view, our nameless servant is doing us a disservice, not a service. Furthermore, some government intervention, such as a tax on junk food, the proceeds of which reduce the cost of healthy food, make sense to me here.

Not a fan of a nanny state, but the medical and other costs associated with obesity are unfairly borne by us all. Down with externalities.

BioTube April 14, 2011 at 11:05 am

While chips can contribute to a number of health issues, weight’s not really one of them. Other changes in the Standard American Diet are at fault(which could just as easily be something that the average American doesn’t eat – obesity is a possible expression of undernourishment).

Eric April 14, 2011 at 11:09 am

According to http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-potato-chips-i19411, chips are about 155 calories per ounce. I don’t know about you, but if I sit down with a bag of Ruffles, there’s no way I’m stopping at one ounce. Anyhow, substitute hypertension or whatever other health issues are linked to chips and my point remains.

ET April 14, 2011 at 11:53 am

There have been studies that show that calories alone don’t cause obesity. Different bodies have different ways of dealing with excess calories. The 400 pound guy I see at the gym is never seen eating, and he’s getting lots of exercise carrying those two 100 lb. sacks of fat around with him. If we all carried around 200 lbs worth of weights, wouldn’t we be using up lots of calories?

On the other hand, a girlfriend of mine for many years would eat the most of all of us; you should have seen her at the all you can eat places. Never gained a ounce.

One year cholesterol is bad, next some of it is good. Diet plans never work. There’s millions of years of evolutionary momentum that has made fat important for survival. When we start to see food lines because the government is destroying our ability to produce, it’s the skinny people who’ll die first.

And don’t forget all the auto-immune diseases caused by our extra clean lifestyle. Should we start putting parasites in our food to avoid Chromes disease?

Bottom line is no one food product is unhealthy for everyone. But one thing is for certain, poverty kills more people than anything, and governments cause the most poverty. It is the preaching done by people who want to socialize everything that will kill most of us in the long run. So, think about that when you complain about the unfair cost to you because someone is fat.

Eric April 14, 2011 at 12:05 pm

There are exceptions to every rule, but on the whole, people who eat lots of chips or ice cream or sodas are likely to be heavier than those who consume lean meats and veggies and fruit and water, all else being equal.

Daniel April 14, 2011 at 12:49 pm
jl April 14, 2011 at 11:29 am

“Down with externalities.”

I agree. But let’s dump socialized medicine first, so that costs are borne by the person scarfing down bags of chips, not “by us all.”

Eric April 14, 2011 at 11:34 am

There are other costs, though. For instance, the city where I live is one of the heaviest in the nation. Many employees in both the public and private sectors are therefore overweight. They need breaks more often and are unable to do certain tasks or require assistance to do them. The result is higher costs for everyone. They die or become disabled younger, which can leave their children or them in the care of the state or their families, perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

Matthew Swaringen April 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm

And perhaps they’d prefer to be poor and have their potato chips? Just because you don’t hold that preference doesn’t mean no one does. As for the state taking care of them, I don’t think it should ever do that. It should be left up to charity, which certainly includes family and they can decide themselves whether or not it’s worth it to put up with the problems.

Joe April 14, 2011 at 12:14 pm

That only works if you are willing to live in a society where poor people and people who have misplaced their credit cards are left to die in the gutters surrounding gated hospitals.

Matthew Swaringen April 14, 2011 at 12:52 pm

So doctors are monsters now? They won’t do any treatment for free? How many of them would be willing to let someone just die?

The difference between getting a service free from the doctor and getting it “paid for” from government is that before you knew you were getting a favor from a doctor and you respected and wanted to make some kind of effort to pay or at least not be a jerk. With the government giving you this “right” people have a sense that they are entitled to the labor of everyone else. What kind of doctors and patients does this system encourage?

yahya April 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm

“The difference between getting a service free from the doctor and getting it “paid for” from government is that before you knew you were getting a favor from a doctor and you respected and wanted to make some kind of effort to pay or at least not be a jerk.”

Exactly. the more grateful people are for others helping them, rather than demanding it as an entitlement, the more people will be willing and happy to help them.

andy April 14, 2011 at 10:44 pm

How do you know what people think? Many of the people that get entitlements pay taxes. Minimum wage employees of WalMart qualify in most cases.

yahya April 14, 2011 at 11:42 pm

@andy –

I just said if people are grateful, more people give rather than not give. I didn’t say whether or not the situation of people being grateful already existed today. Some people today are indeed grateful, while others are not.

but what’s probably more important is the perception that people who get money from the government aren’t grateful and view it as their entitlement. probably some of them are grateful, while others are not, but if the perception is that they are not, such as through the naming of what they receive as ‘entitlements’, then people will not be willing to give.

G8R HED April 14, 2011 at 11:43 am

Eric – “our cravings are anything but rational.”

Way off base here, Eric. Human action is purposeful – that is, action is performed to fulfill a specific purpose. The satisfaction of a craving – really just a desire – is a rational choice, a means to achieve a specific end. Choosing chips over carrots is a rational decision. That one may be harmful and the other one may not be harmful is a consequence of that rational choice.

I can accept your statement – “we’d be better off as a society with chips that weren’t so tempting” – as your personal opinion; your choice. It is not true in reality. Some people have a chronic and long term type II food allergy to wheat, yeast, or maybe even carrots. Chips, however, may not induce the same unhealthy reaction. Substituting chips for bread with a turkey sandwich would be a healthy choice. Choosing one or the other, regardless of health or desire, is still rational choice.

Why would you tax me because you think chips are not a healthy choice? Chips are a healthy choice for me because I cannot eat anything with wheat or yeast (actually 27 different foods including garlic and broccoli). Think about what you are saying, Eric. You want to FORCE me to pay (taxation) so that you can eat the foods YOU THINK are healthy. You would rather kill me with broccoli than let me eat chips.

Eric April 14, 2011 at 11:56 am

This is exactly what I was talking about when I mentioned the failure of economists to recognize irrational behavior. Economists seem to subscribe to the philosophy that if you do it, then there is a rational basis for doing it. That’s only true in the most absurd sense, e.g., in the same sense that every action is selfish.

It’s a circular argument: people do things because they are rational, and they are rational because they do things. It’s not a fact, it’s an economic axiom, and in some cases at least, not a sensible one.

People often harm themselves with their own actions, even as they profess wanting to stop. Think of alcoholics, cutters, participants in abusive relationships, overeaters, or compulsive gamblers. Sorry, but I’m not going to accept that these are rational behaviors.

As I indicated in another post, the high societal cost of junk food is already taxing me. I am forced to pay these taxes, just as you would be forced to pay a junk food tax. That’s why I want to create disincentives to their production and consumption. If the consumer was the only one harmed, I’d say have at it, tax-free. But that’s not the way it is.

And I’m not the one who says broccoli is healthy and potato chips aren’t; nutritionists do. I’m sorry for your food allergies, but you can’t expect food policy to be structured around the restrictions of a small number of individuals.

The Anti-Gnostic April 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm

How about we leave it up to you to plant yourself in the way of fools and their folly. You could patrol the city, cutting people off after their third drink, throwing water on their cigarettes, intervening in domestic disputes…

Joe April 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Of course that is absurd – best to have prices that reflect true costs and let people decide for themselves.

G8R HED April 14, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Eric, You are sorely ill-informed about what is ‘healthy’ and the number of people effected by both IgE and IgG food allergies. Those that are diagnosed are fortunate to be able to formulate diets that are healthy for them. It is estimated by those doctors who are knowledgeable in the field that up to 80% of the U.S. population lives with un-diagnosed food allergies. That is no small number.
I expect individuals to reject ‘food policy’ and the use of aggression altogether and support those who act in such a way to benefit themselves and others through cooperation.

You recognize the real problem when you say – “the high societal cost of junk food is already taxing me.” The problem is not that junk food exists, the problem is aggression.

Eric – ” ‘And I’m not the one who says broccoli is healthy and potato chips aren’t; nutritionists do.” Do you believe that ALL nutritionists say that or only the ones you agree with?

Joe April 14, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Yeah, Eric – did you even ask a fat nutritionist his or her opinion about the relative nutritional value of broccoli and a bag of chips? It is illogical that something that tastes SO good can be bad!

yahya April 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm

vegetables don’t taste bad at all. you just have to know how to cook them properly with spices and stuff.

yahya April 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm

vegetables don’t taste bad at all. you just have to know how to cook them with spices and stuff.

Martial Artist April 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm

You have the cart before the horse, Eric. The problem is not that some want to engage in unhealthy behavior, it is that the Rule of Law has been corrupted by the state such that the costs are transferred to people who are not responsible for the increased costs. The solution is NEVER to change the tax code, but rather to eliminate the subsidy to the individual. Your approach simply acts as an example of how to enable rent-seekers to continue their economically and politically unhealthy behavior in attempting to live at the expense of their fellow citizens.

Your argument is an excellent illustration of the conflation of fundamentally unrelated issues. It is so because there is nothing inherently unhealthy in eating chips. It is the excessive consumption of chips coupled with a lack of exercise (and possibly individual genetic factors) that is unhealthy. But you want everyone who consumes the product to be taxed, irrespective of whether or not they are a contributor to the problem. That sort of thinking is one of the more common mechanisms by which the politicos justify state intrusion into matters over which they have no legitimate Constitutional remit.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

Joe April 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm

So in this case, eliminating the subsidy would perhaps take the form of allowing insurance companies to charge premiums according to the eating habits of the insured person? That does not sound unreasonable. But what about for the uninsured? Are they refused admittance to emergency rooms because they have eaten too many chips?

Matthew Swaringen April 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm

This is up to the emergency room. No one should be forced to associate with anyone including treating them. But if the doctors really care about what they do I’m fairly certain that’s not a problem. Historically (prior to Medicare), there was a lot more free care given on the part of doctors. Making it a “right” didn’t make for more of this, it just socialized the costs and encouraged the same sorts of problems you now want to try (and fail horribly) to end with taxes.

Jim P. April 14, 2011 at 7:59 pm

It’s not your call, Eric. What you personally think is rational and what another person believes rational are, rightly, two different things. We all have different situations and experiences, and none of us has a monopoly on absolute truth. So when you don’t think that compulsive eaters, gamblers, drinkers, smokers, cutters, etc are being rational – good, you’re probably right. Don’t do those undesirable things.

Your circular argument is entirely made-up. Austrian economics does not assume that human actions are “correct” in some universal sense. It recognizes that people generally do the best they can with what they have to work with (information, resources, time, etc). Humans do the best they can without being God. Sometimes people fail. Your regulatory solution fails too: Government is not God and can’t make us “correct” or relieve us of humanity. Your problem of control shows up when you have to draw the line somewhere for enforcement purposes. You can’t use taxes or legislation to solve problems without causing brainless enforcement. The real problem behind all of this is that we are made, by government intervention, responsible for each other’s dumb mistakes. This, perversely, penalizes good individual decisions.

Your personal responsibility is not covered with this:
“And I’m not the one who says broccoli is healthy and potato chips aren’t; nutritionists do. … you can’t expect food policy to be structured around the restrictions of a small number of individuals.”

Despite the fact that you ARE saying exactly that in the above sentence, you nevertheless try to stand on the shoulders of a hypothetical government nutritionist panel, which, in Ericlandia, will announce the Ericlandia Nutritional Truth to all of us. Then enforce it no matter what.

Can an expert know what is right? Moral? Logical? For everyone? No, but Eric thinks that doesn’t matter as long as it is a minority being trampled, because might makes right. Via politics, Eric now has the right to vicariously babysit other individuals. Superpowers are cool! But responsibility – for being the tyrant’s supporter – well that’s not so cool. At the end of the day, you won’t be the guy responsible when the IRS and BATF&C’s chip sniffing dogs show up the grocery store looking for peanut oil.

As for your “You Am Me” argument, where:
“the high societal cost of junk food is already taxing me. I am forced to pay these taxes, just as you would be forced to pay a junk food tax. That’s why I want to create disincentives to their production and consumption. If the consumer was the only one harmed, I’d say have at it, tax-free. But that’s not the way it is.”

You’re using the approach that because we already pay taxes for other things we shouldn’t (ie, healthcare), we should pay another tax to solve that problem. And to avoid taxation and regulation, you are proposing pre-emptive taxation and regulation? Think again about what “spiral of interventions” means – because of healthcare socialization, we need socialization in our eating habits too. More regulation and taxes doesn’t solve prior healthcare socialization. That’s exactly how we got here. And again, why is federal revenue the answer? If you think it moral to brainlessly penalize human beings for not paying political rent on a potato chip, play Sim City. Life is not a policy experiment. Leave real human beings alone.

How about this simple, root-striking, proposal:
There will be no food policy. Period.

Joe April 14, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Eric is proposing a system by which foods are taxed according to their lack of nutritional value, as determined by science and health professionals. Nobody has a food allergy condition that requires a 100% junk food diet. This is simply a “sin” tax. Mitigating the external costs by passing them on to the consumer means that market forces can operate to give us both an efficient, and healthy, outcome that in the end benefits everybody.

Matthew Swaringen April 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Yes, like the “market forces” of health regulation have brought us cheaper health insurance and the “market forces” of the department of education and no child behind have brought us cheaper and more efficient schools?

Anthony April 14, 2011 at 10:16 pm


Did you read Jim’s comment (April 14, 2011 at 7:59 pm)? The external costs you mention are taxes… and your solution to having to pay tax is paying more taxes?

The real issue is with who should have control of your body. I think that every person should have full control over their own bodies, as long as they don’t take that right away from other people. Many seem to think that some bureaucrat (always benevolent, of course) is better able to decide what I should eat then I am. How far would you be willing to allow that argument?

If everyone exercised for 2 hours per day, quit smoking, quit drinking, etc. we might have “an efficient, healthy outcome that in the end benefits everybody”… once you accept that the government should take control over some behaviors it becomes very hard to say where the controls should stop.

Shay April 14, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Now [potato chips] are abundant, and for those of us for whom the battle of the bulge is fought on a daily basis, our cravings are anything but rational.

You misunderstand rationality. It’s just logic, which does nothing without a goal and values. The goal tells what you want to achieve, and the values tell you which approaches are preferred. Without these, there is no reason to eat potato chips, or eat anything for that matter. Thus, since potato chips are a more efficient way of achieving satiation and enjoyment food-wise, they are a more rational choice, not less-rational. What you probably mean is that they are not a rational way to stay healthy, but who said people eat them for health?

Seattle April 14, 2011 at 6:23 pm

So what? People have a right to be stupid.

tfr April 14, 2011 at 11:01 am

Cool article. I often, in driving through cities at night, see all the illuminated windows and wonder about things like this – what do all those people do? Thousands and thousands of windows, many with a story like this one.
I can dig the blank looks – my company makes cooling products, the kind with fans. Much of the internet traffic of North America probably passes through servers cooled by our products. Try explaining this to someone…

HL April 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Ditto. One of the more romantic dates in my life was taking a Randian girl friend to LA for the weekend and us sponteneously pulling off the side of the road to just sit and stare at the huge plants outside of LongBeach. The moonlight provided the soft background for the array of bright lights partly illuminating and casting long shadows along endless arrays of pipes and exhaust towers. That sight was sheer beauty to us. By comparison, the Grand Canyon did absolutely nothing for me.

Greshams-law April 14, 2011 at 11:30 am

Great article.

You can draw from even the most unlikely of places to make a great article on entrepreneurship! Just saw your speech ‘How to Improve Society’ on youtube the other day, it was great also.

augusto April 14, 2011 at 11:35 am

Actually, I did my PhD thesis on a closely related subject – people “just doing their jobs” and “solving ordinary problems”…

Oklahoma Libertarian April 14, 2011 at 11:36 am

“And get this: this is a petroleum product. That’s right, it is made of a material derived from oil.”

w00t! Take your stale chips and shove ‘em, eco-fascists!
(I’m a petroleum engineering major.)

Tony Fernandez April 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm

How dare they use resources without our consent! Those filthy, greedy mongrels.


Sione April 14, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Another excellent article< Mr Tucker. Thank you.


DW April 14, 2011 at 2:04 pm

This article reminds me of how my parents met a man who worked for the Shell Oil corporation in the plastics division. Apparently, he was one of the few who advocated for the use of plastic cartons in place of glass versions, and therefore helped spearhead the now common milk jug we see today.

He gave them the original report he gave to his superiors in the 1960s. It has since been passed down to me. Today, it is kept in mint condition in a plastic slip under my desk.

PJ April 14, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Tucker, you are the greatest!!

Who else but a Misest could take an obscure subject such as OPP and turn it into a delightfully engaging teaching moment!

It is this type of outside the box (bag) insight that make Misests so much fun to engage in conversation–none of the trite, banal and inane reportage you find in most mainstreet media and/or talking head subject matter.

Lynn Atherton-Bloxham April 14, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Thank you for such a great article. Also for the good commentary supporting this important thesis. Lynn Atherton-Bloxham

Jim April 14, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Not to sound redundant, but I have to agree; this was a particularly enlightening and entertaining article. Excellent job as usual, Mr. Tucker!

Sarah April 14, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Thanks for the candid expression of grace, Jeff. You’re a good influence on us.

I do wonder – did the topic of smaller package volumes come up in this interaction with your benefactor?

Walt D. April 14, 2011 at 5:30 pm

You did a bad bad thing.
Now that they know about it, we’ll get some bureaucrat to regulate OPP – we might even end up with an OPP Czar.
This is an evil product – it allows you to enjoy junk food like potato chips. We need to get Michelle Obama to monitor your dietary intake.

Sione April 14, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Something else I recall. A friend of mine used to say that the best way to get rid of plastic containers and packaging when you’ve finished with them is to bury them. After all, the oil from which they were made was extracted from under the ground, so back under the ground is where they should be returned. That is appropriate and sustainable. Good part is that eventually the plastic is going to return to its base state- oil.


Ned Netterville April 14, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Great article, Jeff.

Eric : “Not a fan of a nanny state, but the medical and other costs associated with obesity are unfairly borne by us all. Down with externalities.”

Eric and Joe: the “externalities,” as you call them, are caused by the nanny state, particularly through its taxes and regulations. Repeal the state and you will eliminate all of those externalities. Only that state can force people to pay the costs that others incur.

wade April 15, 2011 at 12:27 am

Great article, and this is what the free market is about right, how many people make one pencil!
However to say they are slaves I feel is a very harsh and misleading description, they absolutely love to help the world and you know what its better nobody knows about them because that means the government does not bother them. Anyways back to the slave part, its a free exchange and they earn every penny which is voluntarily given to them directly through the potato chip companies and indirectly by the millions of customers.
Once again great article, but its also important to call these producers what they are and that is a group of peaceful traders who ultimately create a win win situation for the entire world and allow more progress in the future.

John B April 15, 2011 at 4:04 am

Yes, okay.
But can we get away from the cheesy socialist/Marxist ethos?
He’s not serving me, he is serving himself.
And, as you point out, therein lies the strength of the free market system. A naturally ocurring co-operation based on interdependent self-serving goals.
We can put the love and adoration back where it belongs, for those we love and adore.
Such as God.
Trying to realign that, is the origin and weakness of dialectical materialism.

nate-m April 15, 2011 at 5:48 am

But can we get away from the cheesy socialist/Marxist ethos?

Maybe you don’t understand?

He’s not serving me, he is serving himself.

By serving me he serves himself. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. One built on trust, understanding, and freedom.

Such as God.

God created us for his benefit. To give love and to receive love. Benefits promised in the Bible are conditional based on our service to him. Promises need to be reminded to be honored. Contracts have requirements that need to be fulfilled by us.

Positive human relationships can form a sort of prototype for our relationship with God. This is by design. We were made in his image and such things aid in our understanding of him.

John B April 15, 2011 at 7:30 am

Yes, okay.
More a question of emphasis than any disagreement.
The co-operative benefit is a natural spin off, not intentional, in the free market activity. No trust needed other than that required for the furtherance of self interest. Which is great.
The trust and love can be part of one’s life and is vastly beneficial, but it is not part of the co-operative gain of pursuing self interest.
Which is as it should be!
It only gets cheesy when it tries to pretend to be something that it isn’t.

Ned Netterville April 15, 2011 at 7:41 am

“KILL HIM!”–Marx, Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Bin Laden, etc., etc., etc.
“TAX HIM!”–Obama, Bush, Roosevelt, Reagan, etc., etc., etc.
FREE HIM!–Jesus, Mises, Rothbard, Hayek, Bastiat, Tucker, Gordon, etc., etc., etc

Eric April 15, 2011 at 7:48 am

No one should ever accuse this crowd of lacking in conviction.

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”

Bertrand Russell

Ned Netterville April 15, 2011 at 9:17 am

“Against my will, in the course of my travels, the belief that everything worth knowing was known at Cambridge gradually wore off.” Bertrand Russell

“Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves.” Bertrand Russell

“I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.”–Bertrand Russell

“Taxes are revolting! Why aren’t you?”–Ned

“OPM–sounds like opium, is equally addicting, stands for other people’s money.”–Ned

yahya April 15, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Just quoting famous people’s witty sayings doesn’t prove anything. I can do that too with the opposite viewpoint:

“A man who hasn’t found something he is willing to die for is not fit to live.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Ned Netterville April 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I agree with you, and I particularly agree with M.L. King. I quoted Russell with tongue in cheek to confute the previous Russell quote. As for Ned, he’s not famous.

G8R HED April 15, 2011 at 10:28 am

“A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.”

Bertrand Russell

Eric April 15, 2011 at 10:35 am

Russell sure has a lot of wisdom to offer us.

Ned Netterville April 15, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Indeed, especially on pacifism, but clearly not on economics. When he strayed there, he bought into socialism/statism: “For my part, while I am as convinced a Socialist as the most ardent Marxian, I do not regard Socialism as a gospel of proletarian revenge, nor even, primarily, as a means of securing economic justice. I regard it primarily as an adjustment to machine production demanded by considerations of common sense, and calculated to increase the happiness, not only of proletarians, but of all except a tiny minority of the human race.”
—Bertrand Russell, “The Case for Socialism” (In Praise of Idleness, 1935, pg. 81)”

Particularly for a recognized logician, these are shallow and illogical conclusions. Sounds like Russell was taken in by Marx’s DAS KAPITAL, or perhaps by the inane economics of his fellow at Cambridge, Lord Keynes’ GENERAL THEORY, and failed to consult the eminently logical refutations of those hoaxsters by the Austrians.

Linda W. April 15, 2011 at 5:12 pm

I wish they could do something about the packaging of raw potatoes in the grocery store.
There all in transperant plastic bags. As was just said potatoes do not like light. They go green, yuck, and can make you real sick. In Sweden, my homeland, potatoes were always in bags with dark (black) insides and/or in dark bins if bulk.

Dan April 16, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Not to go off on a tangent here, but if you apply some simple economic analysis to the “problem” as you call it, you might find there is no problem. For example, you mention the supposed problem of raw potatoes going bad in the store, and then conclude that because of this and the fact that potatoes degrade, they should not be in clear plastic bags.

I would encourage you to ask yourself this: Would you buy raw potatoes that you could not see? As you know, potato quality varies from season to season. Some have blight, some have rot. Some are small and not good enough to be purchased. As mucked up as all markets are, one might argue that there might be consumer preference behind how potatoes are packaged.

Put more simply, the consumer demands different things from potatoes then he does from potato chips. In the former case, he demands they be in good condition, that they not have rot, etc. In the latter case, he demands that they not be crushed into a billion pieces and that they be tasty and crunchy.

Different preferences and priorities for different products. It’s that simple.

-Dan (who loves potatoes BTW)

P.S. I’m not buying potatoes in Sweden. I’m not into the whole “buy this raw food product which may or may not be rotting and disgusting and only find out about it at home because you cannot see the contents in the store”.

Anthony April 16, 2011 at 11:44 pm

I always get potatoes in cardboard bags with a little mesh window… the store stocks them with the window facing down, keeping the potatoes in the dark but you can still look at them before you buy them.

Dan April 16, 2011 at 11:10 pm

The reason I’m on the blog is to thank Jeffrey Tucker for another article which is both enlightening and interesting at the same time.

Thanks, Jeff.


Havvy April 22, 2011 at 10:07 am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_packaging has a link for every kind of packaging on their table except for ‘bag’. If somebody with more know-how than me could fix this, that would be awesome. The information seems to be a bit sparse though…I’m having trouble even getting enough for an informal 750 word article.

Vanmind April 23, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Great stuff, Mr. Tucker. Someone keep an eye on this industry to use as a case study later about how markets will innovate by substituting one factor of input for another that has become too scarce/expensive (e.g. oil). Give it a few years, it should be good for comparison with emerging one-world socialist planning boards.

Then again, maybe by then all those “processed & packaged” products will be outlawed. Healthier foods and all that stuff you can grow on your little patch of feudal urban land, the “community gardens” that are all the rage, biking to and from your subsistence labor along all those new bike lanes that are bringing justice to modern society by redistributing street accessibility.

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