The Reality of the Market

I really enjoy my job, for several reasons. One reason is that my company is the perfect real-life example of many concepts I learned in economics. I have to get my boss credit, he is sometimes a very quotable person and says things just like I’ve heard in my econ books…except he really is an entrepreneur who is dealing with very real customers (believe me…I have to talk to them every day…).

First example illustrates consumer sovereignty. He said, “A lot of people think that business-owners run their company. That’s not true. The customer runs the business. The customers decide what happens under this roof, not me.” If only Marx had talked to a real, live capitalist, he would have discovered that consumers aren’t being exploited… and if you must have some exploiting going on, it is probably the consumers exploiting the producers. At my workplace we make capital goods. Lots of little metal parts for all sorts of things, from airplanes to Caterpillars. So our customers aren’t even the consumers; they just take our parts, add some more, and send it on to another capital goods company. But can you imagine the pressure of the customers in a consumer goods business?

Second example illustrates what Jeffrey Tucker mentioned a couple months ago in an article. He said something like, “businesses are future-oriented. They don’t care what happened yesterday. They may be having a really bad today. But they’re always looking towards to tomorrow.” I’ve observed that in my workplace, and I certainly think like that as well sometimes. But yesterday my boss and I were talking and he said, “If I think about today, it makes me want to jump in my grave. But if I think about the future, I get all excited.” Isn’t that great? Jeffrey Tucker was so spot-on with what he said, that’s exactly how businesses go.

On a related topic, there’s been some discussion on the Mises blog about how fastidious Austrians should be. Should we condemn McDonalds because of the gov’t food subsidies it receives? The list goes on, for the leviathan has tainted every aspect of our lives. Some go the negative way and reject anything in the market which has anything to do with government. Jeffrey Tucker, and others, have argued that we should enjoy and appreciate the aspects of the market which are more free. Sure, we can complain about food subsidies. But let’s also marvel (as Jeffrey Tucker has done) at the efficiency of McDonalds at satisfying the consumer demand for cheap, convenient food. In the same way, I know that eventually the parts my company makes will be used by the government in the ambiguous “defense” of this country. I don’t like to say I work in the defense industry because 1) I don’t really and 2) the sort of defense our government engages in isn’t the kind of defense I’m proud of. Instead I like to say I work in the areospace industry which is more accurate and something I’m happy about. So although down the line our parts are used for immoral actions, I can marvel at the market tendencies all around me.

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