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06/11/2017

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JDR

I had never considered this issue until I read Hayek's book years ago. Yet, I had my own family anecdote that made the same point. My great-grandfather was offered the family farm, when his father died. At the time, he was working in the Chicago Stockyards. He wanted nothing to do with the farm. It was sold and he kept working in the stockyards. Was he insane? Or coerced? No. He made a choice. Was he stupid? No. I always figured that he saw his life as being better than the life he could have as a farmer. And that must be the same for all our ancestors.

John Pepple

Yes, my father grew up on a farm and was blind in one eye as a result of a farm accident. I never wanted to have much to do with farms, either.

Charles N. Steele

Your statement about "plight of the workers under capitalism" sums it up very well. Myth. It can be shown that there were abuses of workers and bad conditions, but 1) they were better off than they had been, and 2) incomes *for workers* began growing exponentially with industrialization. No one doubts the demographic change from the industrial revolution (exponential population growth) and only the ignorant don't realize incomes grew *much* faster. The smallest estimate I have seen for change in per capita income in Britain from 1800 to about 1950 is 12X (McCloskey & Floud's study of economic history of Britain). With capitalism,people didn't die off the way they used to and their incomes soared.

Charles N. Steele

I had somehow missed that you were looking for arguments on Latin America. Peruvian economist Hernando De Soto has an excellent book "The Other Path" about how reducing regulation and protecting poor peoples' property rights -- letting them become capitalists -- is the way to liberate them and eliminate their poverty.

In the appendix he addresses the question of why Latin American economies stagnate, and makes a very good case that it is because they inherited the mercantilist system and institutions from Spain, a system which favors only the powerful. Mercantilism is the original "rich person's socialism" and was Adam Smith's primary target in "Wealth of Nations." You might find the appendix to De Soto's book useful.

John Pepple

Thanks. I'll check it out.

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