I, Chicken Sandwich

“The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another.” — Milton Friedman

A common lead pencil is a simple mechanism. The famous essay, I, Pencil, shows definitively that no one acting alone could make something as elementary as a pencil, at least not without a huge effort and tremendous cost. The video below shows how you could make a chicken sandwich, not much more complicated that a pencil, without engaging in free trade with anyone else. Trouble is, in this example it took 6 months at a cost of $1500. That’s not counting the value of the sandwich maker’s own labor. The video is not very long and well worth your while.

The Great Depression of the 1930s had mulitple causes, all them traceable to government action. The Smoot-Hawley Tarriff signed into law by President Herbert Hoover was a major cause of the Depression and the main triggering event. Smoot-Hawley halted trade between the United States and much of the rest of world almost immediately, and its effects were instantly felt. It stands as one of the dumbest things ever done by the government.

Humans are hard wired to trade with one another. Archeology of ancient sites shows that humans have engaged in trade with others, even with those who lived a great distance away, from the beginning of civilization. It seems it was never necessary for people to like or admire the others with whom they traded, only that they believed by trading with them they received value in exchange. When governments step in to interfere with free trade they are only making their own people poorer. They are, as Margaret Thatcher said, making the poor poorer to keep the rich from getting richer.

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