Unveiling the new and improve Sprockids Bike Park, Sunshine Coast, BC, back in 2012.

Issue #31 - Why Self-Interest Provides Social Support in a Free Market

Capitalism Jan 28, 2024

Welcome to the latest issue of The Qi of Self-Sovereignty. The newsletter exploring what it means to be free in an increasingly not-so-free world.

Whether you're looking to locate your authentic self or investigate sovereignty, you're in the right place! In each post, with just a few minutes of reading, I aim to expand your awareness through a quote and a piece of content that made me go hmm...

Sounds intriguing? Start learning with issues sent directly to your inbox:

"Imagine losing your job – would you prefer it to happen in a world where prices are going up or one where they are coming down?" - Jeff Booth (Paraphrasing)

"How can you say you care about society if you're not a left-leaning liberal?"

I've often had this question hurled at me as if supporting the free market and open competition implies a lack of concern for society. I'd like to challenge this assumption and emphasize that nothing could be further from the truth.

Let me explain...

Self-interest, typically associated with pursuing personal ambitions and prioritizing individual needs and desires, has led to criticisms of free market capitalism's ability to address the needs of marginalized individuals and those facing disadvantageous circumstances. The question arises: How can a system built on self-interest adequately support those who are unable to fend for themselves or have been dealt an unfair hand in life? 

Within the confines of this conventional definition, capitalism may indeed seem limited in its capacity to address this pressing concern. However, it is important to recognize that this simplified view doesn't account for the fact that essentially every action we make can be traced back to self-interest. 

Consider, for instance, when we support our children financially or emotionally. While it may appear selfless on the surface, an underlying self-interested desire exists to propagate our genetics and ensure our lineage's continuity. Similarly, when we support and assist an elderly parent, we tap into our instinctual desire to love, support, and nurture those dear to us. Volunteering at a local charity organization may also serve as a testament to self-interest. We are often driven by the desire to contribute to a cause to make a positive impact, or there is an acknowledgment that such efforts can bring social capital and networking opportunities, enhancing our personal growth and connections. What's more, giving back to the community or engaging in acts of altruism is not devoid of self-interest. It may align with our moral and social values, reinforcing our sense of purpose and belonging within society. 

It is self-interest that makes the world go round! Recognizing the complexities of self-interest allows us to explore the possibilities of harnessing self-interest as a force for positive change and better understand how and why free market systems function. 

Simplifying the free market as devoid of social support or concern for the collective or any other slurs against such a system overlooks the intricate nature of human behaviour and the dynamics of society. 

And herein lies the puzzle piece often not seen by those pushing up against the free market: As we shift our focus inwards from the broader context of our nation to our local communities and, finally, our immediate families, our behaviour undergoes a transformation. 

While some may strongly support free markets and reduced government intervention at the national level, they can also be actively involved in social, collaborative endeavours on a community level. Since my teenage years, I have volunteered my time to assist vulnerable youth, providing them with essential resources such as food, shelter, and support. Additionally, I've created and conducted countless free financial talks to empower those struggling with society's pressures. I share these experiences not to seek praise but to emphasize that despite my firm beliefs in free markets on a larger scale, such beliefs shift closer to home.

Where our present-day system falls short is that, firstly, it places immense pressure on individuals to fend for themselves, impeding their ability to thrive and fulfill their potential. When our money loses value over time, this pressure drives individuals to prioritize basic physiological needs like food, clothing, and shelter above other more nuanced forms of self-interested behaviour, such as supporting loved ones or contributing to their local community. 

Secondly, given individuals increasingly limited time and resources as prices continue to climb, the state progressively assumes responsibilities that individuals and communities would otherwise manage— elderly support, childcare, education, homeless shelters, etc. This shift creates a sense of isolation and loneliness for those reliant on the welfare state as their personal agency and connection to their local communities diminishes. 

P.S. Intervention isn't the solution; the more we interfere, diminishing the currency's value, the heavier the burden on everyone. Intervening only serves to camouflage the underlying problem.

That said, in a world where money is separate from the state, where the only way for the government to obtain capital is through value creation driving tax revenue, the welfare state does not simply disappear. Instead, such a system compels the government to be more conscientious about how it allocates capital, emphasizing the importance of long-term planning and sustainable solutions rather than short-term fixes. 

While the government can still fund war above and beyond social support, if the population disagrees with its allocation of resources, it will likely withdraw its support in the form of votes and taxes. This dynamic incentivizes the government to listen to the concerns and preferences of the voters, fostering an environment where the government's actions reflect the desires of its constituents. 

Under such a system, I envision a more thoughtful and conscientious allocation of capital, moving away from excessive military funding and towards social agendas that prioritize long-term sustainable practices. Moreover, capital limitations serve as boundaries to expanding the welfare state, pushing the government to carefully consider resource allocation to ensure society's long-term health and well-being. 

Lastly, in today's landscape, monetary intervention is decimating our currency's capacity to store value, and individuals aren't just sitting idly by while watching their purchasing power diminish. Instead, they seek shelter in assets like real estate, equities, bonds, and other financial instruments. The consequence for the average person is a continuous swell in asset prices, driven by a growing trend of people fleeing the currency in an attempt to protect against inflation. Where I live in Whistler, BC, a staggering 61% of houses are vacant. These properties are merely employed as vessels to store value. Simultaneously, agricultural land is swiftly being acquired, pricing real farmers out of the market.

Suppose we had a true free market where money was divorced from the state. One where central planners cannot arbitrarily expand the money supply, we could witness a return to falling prices as technology advances and productivity increases. The benefits of such money cannot be overstated. Individuals would once again be incentivized to save in the currency, eliminating the need to seek refuge in the above assets. Benefits would include:

  1. Accessible Property Prices: Real estate prices would experience a dramatic decline as capital seeking refuge against inflation moves back into the currency.
  2. Declining Cost of Living: With the currency's purchasing power on the rise due to increased productivity and technological advancements, all with the absence of intervention, prices would begin to fall. This would ease the financial burden on individuals, making it more manageable for them to meet their needs.

Returning to Jeff Booth's paraphrased quote at the beginning of this article:

"Imagine losing your job – would you prefer it to happen in a world where prices are going up or one where they are coming down?"

With all this in mind, it is my belief that a free market gives us the greatest potential not only for sovereignty but also for supporting those around us, as it allows us to show up and give back wholeheartedly without coercion from the state.

If you found this topic interesting, I expand on it further in my book, The Hidden Cost of Money.

Thanks for taking the time to read this issue of The Qi of Self-Sovereignty. I hope you found it insightful.

I always welcome feedback and thoughts. So, do not hesitate to respond to the newsletter email, comment on the article or reach out via Twitter.