Page:Rise and Fall of Society.djvu/88

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Plenty by Competition

shackled, that the better singer be compelled to perform under poorer acoustic conditions than those afforded the second-rater, or that the discrepancies in artistic ability be equalized by law. There is common agreement that in those occupations the impartial verdict of the market place is final, even if it decides that the inferior ballplayer would better serve Society, and himself, by driving a truck. Since the expectation of material rewards (the profit motive) plays a big part in stimulating desirable competition among these cultural specialists, it should follow that competition among those engaged in the production of material things is equally desirable. The artist also seeks to satisfy his desires with the minimum of effort.

On the score of humanitarianism, free competition commends itself on the ground that those who are necessarily outside the field of production, or partly so, are in better case in an economy of plenty than in an economy of scarcity. The physically handicapped, the children, and the aged must in any event be taken care of, and their lot is better in a household where the pantry is full.

To repeat, this does not pretend to be a book on economics. It is rather an attempt to show that economics plays a big, if not major, part in the formation and development of social integrations and institutions, and toward that end it was necessary to outline, broadly, the economic principles which bear upon the thesis.

Any inquiry into the nature of or reason for Society (and its attendant political institutions) must begin with an examination of its integer, the individual. Any other approach would be like starting in mid-air. But the individual proves to be a rather complicated phenomenon, with variable and