The Soldier and the Capitalist
By Arnold Kling
How does the liberal elite view the American military? It seems to me that they view the military as a group of basically evil men, inclined to torture and commit war crimes. It would be better if we could do without a military, but they are ok as long as a good guy from the liberal elite is President, selecting their missions and controlling their excesses.
How does the liberal elite view entrepreneurs and business leaders? It seems to me that they view capitalists as a group of basically evil men, inclined to exploit workers and rip off consumers. It would be better if we could do without capitalists, but they are ok as long as good guys from the liberal elite are in power, delegating tasks to markets only when appropriate and regulating capitalists to control their excesses.
To me, the main insight of economists like Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek, is that differences in the inclinations of people to do good or evil are not so large. Instead, institutional differences matter more. Conveying that insight is a challenge.
Responding to that challenge, Russ Roberts’ new novel, The Price of Everything, is now available. I praised it here and here. Let me praise it again. Roberts’ first chapter plunges right into the issue of the morality of price gouging after a natural disaster. This issue is as current as today’s news, as Russ notes regarding Tropical storm Fay.