Nations Don't Have Economies

"All men are created equal, but the men in our nation are more equal than others." - inspired by George Orwell

Auburn Philosophy Professor Roderick Long calls it his favorite Coke ad ever.

The Freeman editor Sheldon Richman thinks it might be the best commercial ever:

Hat tip to both gentlemen. Here's the commercial.


As Richmans says, that ad probably teaches more things than Coca-Cola intended. I would probably sum it up as:

Commerce breaks down divisions among people.

And this raises an important question: Why are economic arguments based on what best increases national output? If people say, "This policy won't work," what they mean is that they think it won't increase the nation's GDP.

They object to...

  • policies that might lead to lower tax revenue.
  • free markets if freedom might lead to Americans losing their jobs to foreigners -- as if foreigners don't matter or are "less equal" than Americans.

A truly beautiful response to that thinking is found in the commercial.

In the mind of the Statist, the nation's "economy," measured in GDP and tax revenue, comes first.

Here's is the root of their folly: They assume a "national economy," but...

Nations don't have economies.

As Leonard E. Read demonstrated decades ago, even the manufacture of a pencil requires the entire world. No nation could do it alone.

The "economy," then, is really just the global human ecosystem.** Nation-states can't plan it or control it. Attempts to plan or control ONLY mean that the State can deny its people, at gunpoint, the choices they would have otherwise made within that ecosystem.

But there is something positive that States can do. Free their markets! This action alone will foster greater wealth within nations, even if it is measured by GDP or other Statist indexes.

Ultimately, rational economic policy can't be based on "what's best for Americans," considered collectively. It is, rather, what policy will allow American individuals to make free choices and seize opportunities within the global human ecosystem?

**-I did not invent the wonderful "human ecosystem" paradigm. Unfortunately, I don't recall who taught it to me.