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Voluntary Exchange vs. Government Mandates


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voluntary-exchange-vs-government-mandatesLudwig von Mises Institute: Voluntary Exchange vs. Government Mandates

JANUARY 7, 2015Patrick Barron

The basic unit of all economic activity is the uncoerced, free exchange of one economic good for another. Moreover, the decision to engage in exchange is based upon the ordinally ranked subjective preferences of each party to the exchange. To achieve maximum satisfaction from the exchange, each party must have full ownership and control of the good that he wishes to exchange and may dispose of his property without interference from a third party, such as government.


The exchange will take place when each party values the good to be received more than the good that he gives up. The expected — but by no means guaranteed — result is a total higher satisfaction for both parties. Any subsequent satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the exchange must accrue completely to the parties involved. The expected higher satisfaction that one or each expects may not be dependent upon harming a third party in the process.

Third Parties Cannot Create Value by Forcing Exchange

Several observations can be deduced from the above explanation. It is not possible for a third party to direct this exchange in order to create a more satisfactory outcome. No third party has ownership of the goods to be exchanged; therefore, no third party can hold a legitimate subjective preference upon which to base an evaluation as to the higher satisfaction to be gained Scissors-32x32.png

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This is obviously a flawed analysis. Look how happy the sellers of insurance are with the O'Care exchanges.

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