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Does Integrity Matter?

• Butler Shaffer via lewrockwell.com

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.

~ Albert Einstein

I become exasperated reading or listening to chuckleheaded people who are unable – or unwilling – to distinguish the peaceful and voluntary nature of a free market, from the violent and coercive character of the corporate-state system that long ago took over our economic lives. Murray Rothbard’s words come to mind, wherein he observed that it was no great wrong to not understand economics, but that one ignorant of the subject ought not be offering advice on such matters. I would no more go to a lawyer, or an orthodontist, or Lew Rockwell, to have brain surgery performed on me, than would I take seriously the prescriptions offered by economic ignoramuses on how to "grow" an economy (an idea as absurd as that of misguided, controlling parents who believe it is their role to "grow" their children).

Many of the signs and comments of participants in the varied "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations reflect this confusion between the impersonal nature of markets and the politically-enforced interests of marketplace participants. "End corporate greed" is a common sentiment expressed, no doubt, by persons who embrace the "power greed" that drives those who want the state to enforce their visions. It is such simplistic thinking that insists on labeling the pursuit of individual self-interest as "greed," while political power ambitions get defined as "public service." The slothful-minded then find it easy to condemn all marketplace pursuit of self-interest as "anti-social" (at best) or downright "criminal" at worst, and to regard the politically-driven as the embodiment of "public spiritedness." "Businessmen" are then collectivized as persons lacking in any principled integrity who will do anything to increase profits to their firms. 

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