What do I believe?

It may be shocking to learn that not a lot of human beings — and not even any legitimate economists in the field at this point — still believe in the whole Friedman “a man’s highest calling is giving a signal to markets” financialization of the soul as an absurd moral authority anymore. You hint at the reason throughout your piece when waxing eloquently about the importance of valuation of a long litany of very important things not captured by markets at all.

I think few would agree as well that spending money is the “highest form of communication” — it is a logical absurdity, in that communication is a feature of biology that long pre-dates the existence of money, which is a piece of technology humans invented quite some time after having mastered language already. It wasn’t like humanity didn’t value things before money came along — humans invented money to represent that valuation of things they were already doing through various forms of communication.

Money can never subsume communication because it is a human construct — an imperfect one at that (in large part due to the reasons above: markets’ insurmountable failure to capture all value). Money is a heuristic for value only. Value, however, is a real thing that exists — regardless of how accurately the money maps to it. Humanity must live according to its actual values, and ensure the exchange of money falls in line to meet human goals — not the other way around, which would entail being enslaved to money.

To pretend that markets should tell humans how best to live is a life that feels soulless and meaningless to many, myself included. Moreover there is not a convincing reason to abdicate free will to markets that I have heard yet — just ideological purity. Which nobody wants to, or even can, live by. Because we are human, and fallible. Nor are there such things as perfectly competitive markets anywhere, just as there aren’t Platonic Forms to be found out in the real world.

Nor is literally anyone, anywhere seriously arguing for a command economy. Of course valuations of products matter, and financial markets are awesome. But valuations of products aren’t the only valuations that matter, they are not perfect, and they are certainly not capturing all the value being produced and exchanged within human civilization.

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