Remember to give thanks for our freedom

Published 11:46 am Wednesday, December 14, 2011

By WAYNE CURTIS / Guest Columnist

As we celebrate this season, we pause to give thanks for the freedoms we enjoy in this great nation. As we do this, we should not forget our cherished economic freedoms and the system that provides them.

Our economic system allows consumers an almost infinite choice of products and services.

While we sometimes think of government involvement in the economy — e.g., minimum wage laws and food and drug regulation — we forget how much activity occurs without government intervention.

Each day, millions of products and services are produced without any central control. The system is one of order rather than of chaos. Although it is dynamic and constantly changing, the system works. The system works because everything has a price.

Everybody receives payment for what he sells and uses this money to buy what he wishes. If more of a product or service is wanted, an increase in new orders will occur. This causes prices to rise, and more will be produced.

In like manner, if a greater quantity is available than is desired, prices will fall.

The system is characterized by consumer sovereignty. What will be produced is determined by the collective votes of consumers in the marketplace.

While consumers determine what will be produced, producers decide how these items will be produced.

The system generally functions well, but temporary distortions occur from time to time. Consumer tastes change.

Producers may overproduce one product and underproduce another. Rarer, and more troubling, are structural problems — illegal attempts by firms to restrain trade to increase profits.

In these instances, government appropriately responds through enforcement of anti-trust laws.

All in all, however, we are truly blessed with economic freedoms that our system affords each of us as consumers and producers. For this, we should be thankful.

Wayne Curtis, Ph.D., is on the board of directors of First United Security Bank.  He may be contacted at