April 10, 2016Comments Off on Laissez-faire

In 1681, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the French Finance Minister, gathered the top merchants in the country to ask how the government could help. The merchants replied “laissez-faire”.

Essentially, stay out the way and let us do our thing.  

That’s not what they meant of course.

They still wanted the government to protect property rights, enforce private and commercial contracts, administer justice, ensure their safety, and continue to provide services upon which their trade directly and indirectly relied.

All of those things entail costs (capital, social, political etc..)

Letting groups get on with it only works if they end up producing something more valuable than they cost. That means an improvement upon something that already exists.

This could be a superior body of knowledge, creation of a valuable object, a better place for people to get support.

If you’re lucky, that will naturally happen and you can be as laissez-faire as you please. Just let the group get on with it, remove the bad stuff, and reap the benefits.

If you’re like everyone else though, you’re going to need to gain and exert your influence to achieve your goals.

Don’t be afraid of this. The danger today isn’t that we do too much, it’s that we’re so worried about trying to influence group behavior we do too little.

Which results in a very active community generating very little valuable output.

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