May 27, 2010 12:56PM

President Obama’s Poor Understanding of Voluntary Exchange

As explained in an excellent letter to the editor of The Washington Post:

Capitalism’s friends never had to cede moral ground to its enemies, but they will have to replace the current power structure to make room for a revival. President Obama summarized his understanding of free enterprise in his 2009 commencement speech at Arizona State University: “ruthless competition pursued only on your own behalf…”


That markets are built on voluntary transactions — mutual exchange for mutual benefit — is an alien concept in the academic environment that produced Mr. Obama and many of his staffers. That one accumulates wealth in a free market by providing value to willing buyers — the exact opposite of acting “only on your own behalf” — is another idea unlikely to penetrate the zero‐​sum mentality that dominates this administration.

The author is one Michael Smith of Cynthiana, Kentucky, a gifted and prolific letter‐​to‐​the‐​editor‐​writer.