Is Capitalism Sustainable? Mike Munger and Keith Knight

by | Oct 27, 2020

“The member of a contractual society is free because he serves others only in serving himself. What restrains him is only the inevitable natural phenomenon of scarcity.”

Ludwig von Mises

Human Action, p. 280; p. 283


…“markets “work” even if people are self-interested, because the dynamics of competition limit bad actions”….“The reason that we tolerate, or in some cases celebrate, capitalism is that entrepreneurs find ways to produce new products, new services, or new ways of making things that make consumers better off. Many of us would pay far more than the store price for clean water, wholesome food, cars that run for 200,000 miles, or cell phones that connect us to the entire world. Entrepreneurs think up the new goods or services, and competition drives down the price. The result is that many products not available even to the very wealthy in 1900 are now owned by all but the poorest among us.”

-Michael Munger, Professor of Economics at Duke University



Michael Munger is a professor of Economics, Public Policy, & Political Science, at Duke University. 

Buy Is Capitalism Sustainable:

Prof. Munger’s website:


0:20 – Define capitalism

3:58 – Capitalism = infinite growth = infinite consumption, on a finite planet

6:43 – The “free” mindset

9:22 – The lighthouse myth: public goods

12:39 – Rent seeking & Adam Smith

16:09 – In defense of profit

19:15 – Correlation v. Causation  

22:31 – Voting: The worst way to make decisions

25:49 – How self interest leads to the common good due to competition

29:02 – Favorite economist? 





About Keith Knight

Keith Knight is Managing Editor at the Libertarian Institute, host of the Don't Tread on Anyone podcast and editor of The Voluntaryist Handbook: A Collection of Essays, Excerpts, and Quotes.

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