Chances are that when you think of capitalism the great minds of Adam Smith or Milton Friedman spring to mind. Chances are the words ‘growth’ and ‘profit’ may also pop up. Depending on what your understanding of free market capitalism happens to be, words like ‘profit’ may be associated with empowerment through the creation of prosperity, or on the other hand maybe associated with greed and excess.
When I think of the free market, I think of the most basic truth of all; both buyer and seller are better off for their exchange, and society at large is better off from these infinite interactions. Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand.
A seller who seeks to create genuine value for their customer and establish for themselves repeat business will do their utmost to trade with honesty (in pursuit of ‘perfect information’) and service their customer’s segment with dynamism. Consumers (that we all are) will always be looking for the best available option to suit their needs at any given time. As a result, only the best businesses survive.
What is this true capitalism? Think of the farmer’s market.
There have always been weekly markets around, but in recent years we have witnessed a change in consumer tastes and people’s general awareness from things such as nutrition to the use of chemicals and GMO in agriculture. Some of the characteristics of this trend is a desire for wholesome food, the high demand for organic products, the emergence of the ‘super food’ and the booming gourmet cooking culture espoused by the popularity of reality TV cooking shows. Farmer’s markets and craft markets have been popping up everywhere. There is something deeply satisfying about buying your honey directly from the bee keeper or purchasing your eggs from someone who knows all the names of their hens.
At the farmer’s market you’ll find a variety of people selling there. Some will be using the market as a platform to launch their new start-up, some may already have an established business elsewhere and take part to broaden their market reach or pull in some extra income, and others may be running a stall as a hobby or to help raise funds towards a special cause.
What you’ll likely notice is that the young and old will be participating in trade, from the young and ambitious hipster selling his gourmet coffee roasts to the retired grandma selling her knitted cardigans for some extra spending money. Consumers of all age groups and social demographics are drawn to the attraction, and the warm atmosphere of these markets can only be perceived as a positive thing for community bonding. It’s an environment that brings people together in search of creating and receiving value. Supporting ‘the little guy’ also feels rewarding, but not only that, much of what’s on offer at these markets are products that are in high demand. Buyer and seller is better off for these voluntary exchanges. Independence, autonomy and self-determination are some of the key benefits obtained, all of which are hallmarks of liberty.
Never forget the simplicity of true capitalism and its ability to raise people’s living standards through the spirit of enterprise- no matter how small that enterprise may be. I encourage you to visit a farmer’s market and observe capitalism at work for yourself. Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, chances are you just wont be able to help yourself…