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  • I know how to get a free suit. All I have to do is go to Macy's, get a suit, charge

  • it, and then when the bill comes, rip it up. Ethical issues aside, you see the main problem

  • with this approach is that I can only do it once. The next time I go to Macy's, they'll

  • know, because they made a note of it last time, that I rob suits and they won't give

  • me another one. But I have a clever idea. I'll go to Penney's and get a free suit

  • there. Hang on, when I try to get my free suit from Penny's they won't give me one

  • either. Macy's has told them that I'm a suit thief. That's odd. One view of the

  • marketplace is that it's a dog eat dog world of hostile competitors. The philosopher Thomas

  • Hobbes saw the whole world that way. Since Macy's and Penney's are competitors,

  • you might expect that Macy's would hope that I would rob Penny's next. That would

  • even things out. But they don't. In fact, they share information about thieves. They

  • have figured out that in the long run it's in their mutual best interests to help each

  • other crack down on theft. That's more important to them than short-term getting even. If they

  • didn't share what they know, they would be cut off from a tremendous information network

  • about theft. So helping the other guy isn't contrary to their self interest at all. Despite

  • their being competitors, they have a strong incentive to be cooperative.

  • Even more interesting is that they came up with this system on their own. It wasn't

  • a grand design by enlightened rulers, a top-down plan. Rather it was a bottom-up system that

  • evolved organically by the merchants as they figured out how to manage their affairs.

  • Long before the advent of the department store, merchants realized that cooperation among

  • competitors was an absolute necessity. So many mechanisms in their world depend on trust

  • and reputation issues. Not just in their world though, in mine and yours. When I first told

  • you my plan for getting a free suit, you might have objected that I ought to be afraid of

  • being jailed. And that seems to require a government with a top-down plan.

  • But even if the fear of jail were taken out of equation, I would still have good reason

  • to pay my bill. The same networks of trust and reputation that the merchants depend on

  • are things that I depend on as well, to have a job, a home, a car; to be able to buy plane

  • tickets or go to a restaurant. In an important way, we are all merchants. We all trade with

  • each other. Not only are we capable of cooperating, we generally do.

  • Society is full of these organic or spontaneous orders. Everything from language to fashion.

  • From Internet memes to prices in a market. The basic concepts of Anglo-American common

  • law, as well as the international merchant law, evolved in a similar fashion, the result

  • of people's attempts to work out the most mutually beneficial ways of living and working

  • together. So when people tell you that society can't solve its problems without force applied

  • from the top down, you're right to be skeptical. Mechanisms that facilitate and are based on

  • social cooperation are all around us.

I know how to get a free suit. All I have to do is go to Macy's, get a suit, charge

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自由主義哲學。為什麼小偷討厭自由市場--學習自由 (Libertarian Philosophy: Why Thieves Hate Free Markets - Learn Liberty)

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