RE: Property Rights

James Rogers (
Mon, 24 May 1999 10:04:21 -0700

At 04:23 PM 5/24/99 +1000, O'Regan, Emlyn wrote:
>I would make the statement that the forms of capitalism currently
>practised in the world are not perfect. I hope others would agree. That
>is not to say that they are necessarily fataly flawed. Just imperfect.

What is your definition of "perfect"? Evolutionary forms (mutation/selection), such as free market capitalism, are pretty much ideal when working with any system where transaction costs are greater than zero. I might add, though, that free market capitalism is not practiced anywhere in the world today and that most of the ills of capitalism directly or indirectly result from the fact that it is not a free market.

>From the viewpoint of a long (infinitely long?) lived individual, there
>is a big flaw in the idea of a competitive system. The flaw is that we
>are all doomed to failure. If the probability of failure for us is
>greater than zero in an evolutionary "trial", then it must approach 1
>over time, as the number of trials increases. And the probability of
>failure in a trial must be greater than zero, if just to account for
>forces out of individual control.
>In my own individual, greedy, selfish way I think that this individual,
>greedy, selfish economic system is a bum-deal, because it dooms me to
>eventual (multiple) failure. If that failure can be fatal (and it can),
>then I'm really worried.

The problem is that all the other economic systems are "doomed to failure" as well. The real benefit of free market capitalism is that it allows you, the individual, to minimize your failure rate, whereas most other economic systems set that rate for you to some extent. You have a vested interest in setting your own failure rate; delegating that ability runs a far higher risk of a net loss than taking responsibility, particularly since the people to whom the responsibility is delegated are trying to minimize *their* failure rate as well, even if at the expense of yours.

The principle of Self Determination allows everyone to set their own rate of failure, and I believe that given the freedom to set my own failure rate, that I can minimize my failure to the maximum extent possible. You can never win, but you can cheat the odds for a really long time -- entropy in a nutshell.

-James Rogers