Economics: Coercion vs Volunteerism

In his essay The Social Role of Business, written in 1982, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

“The allocation of scarce, desirable and valuable goods, services and ideas must be secured in some manner. Basically, two methods exist: coercion or voluntarism. Because men and women choose different ways to satisfy their ever-expanding wants, property can be divided in two ways: (1) each person can bid for the goods and services sought against all competing uses (the nonaggressive method) or (2) some person or group can seize power and forcefully decide (choose) for others by allocating scarce goods, services and ideas to satisfy those insatiable wants (the coercive method). The coercive method allows some individual or group to use force to distribute these products in a forceful manner, according to their subjective value judgments. The voluntary method allows each individual to act without force to provide for his own ends and to pursue his own brand of happiness. The state represents the coercive method; business provides the voluntary method.”

Read the entire essay here,


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