Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pope Francis' turf

In today's WSJ, John Cochrane describes market-based alternatives to Obamacare.  Sounds like a no-brainer but apparently a hard sell in the "real world."

A page away, Paul Rubin writes "How to Roll Back the Demonizing of Free Markets ... 'Competition' carries a negative connotation, despite its contributions to human happiness."

The "How to" part is beguiling but there is a huge literature on how to get the non-zerosumness of markets into the heads of undergraduates and others.  Contrary to Rubin's argument, many of us celebrate the cooperation that happens quite spontaneously in markets.  I, Pencil and variants are widely taught.  Here is the movie.

An uncountable number of many-times-more-complex supply chains routinely serve us.  Unlike pencils, none of us could even describe them.  Baumol and Litan and Schramm note that "The most astonishing thing about the extraordinary growth and innovation that the U.S. and other economies have achieved over the past two centuries is that it does not astonish us."

I think Rubin is on the right track. Non-zerosumness is a wonderful thing. It happens in markets and it is celebrated in the world's great religions (The Evolution of God). This is Pope Francis' turf.