Sometimes, I’m amazed by how people can see things so differently from me. Mark Wallace gives an example:
Armed with logic, statistics and evidence the [free market] Right thought for too long that it didn’t need emotive arguments…
But we need to speak from the heart and get a bit emotional about markets, too.
And there is an emotional case to be made.
What strikes me here is that I had always thought that the case for free markets was, primarily, an emotional one. The notion that people should be free to buy and sell (legitimately acquired) property as they wish is, for me, a powerful, emotional, intuition.
I’ll go further. I have a lot of sympathy for Deirdre McCloskey’s view that free markets are a moral system. As she says in Bourgeois Virtues, “no other system has been more free from dominance, acquisition and calculating behaviour”. Remember: the archetypal market character is not the boss of a big firm - who is a rent-seeking bureaucrat - but the fruit & veg stall-holder.
By contrast, Mark’s claim that free marketeers have been “armed with logic, statistics and evidence” seems to me to be over-confidence of Dunning-Kruger proportions. For example, the idea that scrapping minimum wage laws - a bete noire of some right libertarians - will create lots of jobs is just stupid. Nor is there statistical evidence that a generally “free” labour market will create lasting full employment. According to Feinstein’s numbers*, UK unemployment averaged 4.1% in the free market 1860s compared to 1.4% in the Keynesian 1950s. This matters, because any system of ideas that has little to say about the biggest economic issue must be greatly flawed.
In this sense, if Mark is correct, right libertarians have been 100% wrong.
* Statistical Tables of National Income, Expenditure and Output of the UK 1855-1965. Not webbed, I’m afraid.