Economics in One Other Lesson

by | May 29, 2024

“The number one principle of economics…: the secret of mass consumption is mass production…. What about distribution? Here’s what we know from all of human history, all of economic history. Any large increase in production is widely shared. There’s no such thing as a large increase in production that only benefits a small fraction of the population. The Industrial Revolution did not just benefit factory owners. The internet did not just benefit computer programmers. Vaccines do not just benefit pharmaceutical companies…. You really should not just focus on distribution; [you should] focus on production.” —Bryan Caplan

I will presumptuously comment that Caplan uses the word distribution in the statistical sense and not in any overall active sense. In a market economy, no one distributes income. The income configuration in a market economy is a snapshot result of countless voluntary exchanges, agreements, and contracts. Because this is so, we should not say that governments try to redistribute income. Rather, we should say they try to distribute it. That is, they try to move from a society of persuasion and consent — freedom — to a society of command and force — serfdom.

Sheldon Richman

Sheldon Richman

Sheldon Richman is the executive editor of The Libertarian Institute and a contributing editor at He is the former senior editor at the Cato Institute and Institute for Humane Studies; former editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education; and former vice president at the Future of Freedom Foundation. His latest books are Coming to Palestine and What Social Animals Owe to Each Other.

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