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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16526/the-capitalist-in-the-hat/

The Capitalist in the Hat

April 18, 2011 by

The case of Seuss enthusiast Charles Cohen beautifully illustrates the harmony between personal profit and service to others in the voluntary market economy. For good or ill, entrepreneurs will provide what the customers want — whether it’s one fish, two fish, red fish, or blue fish.

FULL ARTICLE by Robert P. Murphy


Michael Orlowski April 18, 2011 at 8:56 am


Ryan S April 18, 2011 at 9:45 am

Very nicely-explained article of seeing the unseen importance in market activity such as this. The average person usually views Cohen’s actions as an inherent problem with the market and would have no problem with the government stepping in and regulating.

Nelson April 18, 2011 at 9:59 am

Cohen was just being paid for his expertise and knowledge. If people are upset about his profit, maybe they should complain about authors who spend little in terms of ink and paper, yet collect much more when their stories are published.

Conrad April 18, 2011 at 10:51 am

Obama is quoted as having said the following in criticism of Paul Ryan’s budget proposal:

“I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs,” Obama said. “I will not tell families with children who have disabilities that they have to fend for themselves.”

Because the proposal is lacking in details, I can not determine just how Ryan’s Premium Support System (that Obama and his gang call the Voucher System) is going to work to ensure that the insurance companies will offer affordable coverage to all who need it. How do we respond to terms like “leave seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry”? I would hope that with a gradual phase-in of Ryan’s plan to fix Medicare will that as people will begin to realize they have personal responsibility to pay for care and coverage. Consequently much of the care that people demand because it is “Free” (a fallacy that has helped to drive costs out of site) will be given a second thought.

Inquisitor April 18, 2011 at 2:18 pm

“We” leave them at the mercy of grocery stores, plumbers, gardeners, TV repairmen etc. etc. I mean if someone is senile by that age they can hire someone to help them through advice on insurance policies, or rely on family or friends. Insurance currently is a highly regulated, protected industry, one that enjoys captive consumers thanks to big government healthcare. The more apposite question is why should the elderly be left to the mercy of abject failures like UHC (its track record in France is just stellar, I hear)?

Conrad April 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I wasn’t sure if you were being cynical concering France’s “stellar” health care system or serious so I quickly reviewed NPR’s artivle titled “Health Care Lessons From France”!


I was surprised to learn the article describes France’s UHC system in glowing terms placing the population in France as number one in enjoying longevity. This, attributable to better health care. The US ranked dead last of the 19 nations studied while health care costs are twice as much as one pays in France.

Good or bad, I guess what it is I am trying to determine is whether or not the Paul Ryan proposal has and chance of placing US citizens in the top slot as far as receiving quality health care … “quality” being measured in terms of longevity and an individual’s overall healthful well being.

BioTube April 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm

The problem is that the French eat a very different diet, a huge confounding factor; it’s very likely the French are just healthier to begin with and the lower medical costs reflect lower consumption.

Anthony April 18, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Obesity is a huge factor as well (though it is of course related to diet too). A few more cases of diabetes per hundred will make a huge difference in costs and longevity, not to mention heart disease, stroke, etc. The US is the most obese nation, so health care will inevitable my significantly more expensive there.

Inquisitor April 18, 2011 at 6:34 pm

I mentioned France’s system because it is notorious for the level of neglect to which it subjects the elderly which depend upon it. The choice between the US’s current system and France is one between arsenic or cyanide.

ET April 18, 2011 at 11:52 am

I’m surprised Cohen hasn’t been charged for insider trading. He better watch who he talks to. He might be recorded telling a fib someday to an investigator impersonating a real person and end up in a cage.

billwald April 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm

“We can now understand how Dr. Cohen provided a service when he found obscure Dr. Seuss stories in forgotten magazines.”

The “anyone can grow up to become the US president” syndrome? Out of 200 million or so adults in the US, how many can spend their work day providing a service, leaving how many to produce a product for consumption? What is the balance between production and service in western nations and 3rd world nations? Does it matter?

Anthony April 18, 2011 at 6:51 pm

It matters… if Western government had not by and large regulated their manufacturing sectors out of business things would be very different now.

Gerry Flaychy April 20, 2011 at 9:22 am

“Following Mises, modern Austrian economists stress the primacy of the entrepreneur.

the entrepreneur ends up rearranging goods in a way more pleasing to consumers.

For good or ill, entrepreneurs will provide what the customers want “
_The article

What I see is the primacy of consumers, not the primacy of producers.

Mushindo April 20, 2011 at 10:06 am

OK I know this piece is about Dr Cohen and not Dr Seuss, but I have to observe that Dr Seuss had some great libertarian insights after all:

Having read some of his books to my son some 5 years back, I was pleasantly surprised at ‘Thidwick the big-hearted moose’ and ‘Yertle the turtle’. The first was a very sophisticated parable, clearly demonstrating the creeping self-destruction of socialism through the ever-expanding rights claimed by free-riders. All presented in terms that the pre-schooler can rerlate to. The second was an incisive excoriation of State power. Rothbard it ain’t, but no 3-year-old is going to grasp Power and Market.

Equally, I have to observe that Seuss was well ahead of the curve on the environmental front. The Lorax, a sober cautionary tale about business sustainability with an environmental slant, was a good three decades ahead of the current environmentalist woo-woo.

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