The feature article on Econlib this month is by economically literate political scientist Michael Munger. In it, he defends the role of the middleman, drawing on two classic articles, one by Bastiat and one by R.A. Radford.

My favorite paragraph:

Once again, the point seems paradoxical. It is because of profit that middlemen create value. And the seeking of profit by middlemen, buying cheap and selling dear, ensures that, as Bastiat put it, the “wheat will reach the stomach” faster, more cheaply, and more reliably than any service the state could possibly create. The system of middlemen performs what seems like, to Bastiat and to me, a miracle: “Directed by the comparison of prices, it distributes food over the whole surface of the country, beginning always at the highest price, that is, where the demand is the greatest. It is impossible to imagine an organization more completely calculated to meet the needs of those who are in want…”