The Freeman Asks, "Why Compromise?"

OCTOBER 01, 1966

The Seamen’s Strike in England was disastrously prolonged, sug­gests Punch, because of an un­bending, uncompromising attitude by all parties to the controversy.

The American Machinists’ Strike which grounded five air­lines was disastrously prolonged, in many minds, for the same rea­son.

What goes on here? It seems that justice can be served only as everybody bends to the whims and desires of those who hold power. To what a low estate has justice descended: what’s right is the outcome of bending to ambi­tions for power!

Who likes to compromise? Em­ployees are as averse to backing down as are employers. Yet, there is no other recourse than com­promise in managed or socialistic economies — as in England and the U. S. A. When coercive powers rule the economy, adjustments of the numerous powers must be ceded by the warring factions. With fail­ure to compromise, the economy comes to a halt. Further, compro­mised or dictated adjustments are no more than temporary expe­dients, for no one has the knowl­edge or the ability to accurately predict the future.

No one likes to compromise, nor should anyone be expected to do so. Be done with the planned econ­omy and its inevitable compro­mises and failures. Give no more coercive power to a labor union than to a chamber of commerce. Free the market! Let government protect all willing exchange and inhibit all unwilling exchange —and not indulge in the forbidden exchange itself!

In the free market, humiliating compromise gives way to a gratify­ing freedom of choice by every­one, be he employee or employer, consumer or producer. If one sup­plier’s price for a can of beans or his system of management doesn’t suit, you have the freedom to shop around. And, if he doesn’t like your bid for beans or your serv­ices on your terms, he has the freedom to look around.

Why compromise when we could be free to choose?


October 1966


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November 2014

It's been 40 years since F. A. Hayek received his Nobel Prize. His insights, particularly on the distribution of knowledge and the impossibility of economic planning, remain hugely important today. In this issue, we look back on the influence of his work. Max Borders and Craig Biddle debate whether liberty must be defended from one absolute foundation, further reflections on Scottish secession, and how technology is already changing our world for the better--including how robots, despite the unease they cause, will only accelerate this process.
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