Richard Ebeling, professor of economics at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, and my longtime friend and colleague, has written an important article, “Business Ethics and Morality of the Marketplace,” appearing in the American Institute for Economic Research.
Its importance and timeliness is enhanced by so many of America’s youth, led by academic hacks, having fallen prey to the siren song of socialism.
In a key section of his article, Ebeling lays out what he calls the ethical principles of free markets. He says:
The hallmark of a truly free market is that all associations and relationships are based on voluntary agreement and mutual consent. Another way of saying this is that in the free market society, people are morally and legally viewed as sovereign individuals possessing rights to their life, liberty, and honestly acquired property, who may not be coerced into any transaction that they do not consider being to their personal betterment and advantage.
Ebeling says that the rules of a free market are simple and easy to understand:
You don’t kill, you don’t steal, and you don’t cheat through fraud or misrepresentation. You can only improve your own position by improving the circumstances of others. Your talents, abilities, and efforts must all be focused on one thing: What will others take in trade from you for the revenues you want to earn as the source of your own income and profits?
For many people, profit has become a dirty word and as such has generated slogans such as “people before profits.” Many believe the pursuit of profits is the source of mankind’s troubles.
However, it’s often the absence of profit motivation that’s the true villain.
For example, contrast the number of complaints heard about profit-oriented establishments such as computer stores, supermarkets, and clothing stores to the complaints that one hears about nonprofit establishments such as the U.S. Post Office, the public education system, and departments of motor vehicles.