All Commentary
Friday, December 6, 2013

Thorpe/Freeman Monthly Blog Award: Free Markets are All Around Us

The decision for this month’s Thorpe-Freeman Blog Contest has been a difficult one, with two truly outstanding blogs vying for the top spot and a number of other worthy entrants that, in other months, could have been winners.

But—a decision had to be made. 

This month’s Thorpe-Freeman Blog Contest Award goes to Babatunde Onabajo, for his comments on Jane Shaw’s book review of How China Became Capitalist (Ronald Coase and Ning Wang).  

Onabajo’s blog, titled “The Free-Market and the No True Scotsman Fallacy,” takes from Shaw’s review and the Coase/Wang text (which see the development of capitalism in China as an unintended consequence that played out in small economic niches ignored by the central planners) the lesson that free markets exist all around us—in microcosm. Those who argue against free market economics (or centrally planned economics) by claiming that “No such true system has ever been tried” are versions of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. He provides us with several intriguing examples of his thesis (from the Seventeenth-Century Scottish Enlightenment to the linkage between DARPA and the Internet). And he—delightfully—calls on us to be “Aristotelians,” basing our views of what works and what doesn’t on the empirical evidence all around us.

A close second and high honorable mention for Ryan Brown’s post “The Husbandman that Laboureth.” Brown uses the clarity of Frédéric Bastiat’s economic writing (in contrast to the opacity of Keynes’s work) to observe that Max Borders’ article “On Being a Catalyst” shows us the way to move the libertarian agenda forward: By speaking in common, understandable language to laypeople rather than to and in the obscure language of intellectuals. Referring to Paine’s Common Sense, Brown observes that “It wasn’t the abstract works that made all the difference, but rather the common people who applied those abstract ideas in the real world.”

And a final tip of the hat to another of Mr. Onabajo’s blog posts: “The mystery of the mundane in McDonald’s,” commenting on Peter Boettke’s article “The Mystery of the Mundane.” Onabajo takes us on a tour of McDonald’s to illustrate Boettke’s thesis.  And since McDonald’s was the early work experience of so many of us—it is a venue particularly well-suited to illustrate how economics really works.

Congratulations to Babatunde Onabajo, this month's recipient of the Thorpe Blog Award.


Karl Borden

Professor of Finance

University of Nebraska

Chair, Thorpe Award Committee

  • The Freeman is the flagship publication of the Foundation for Economic Education and one of the oldest and most respected journals of liberty in America. For more than 50 years it has uncompromisingly defended the ideals of the free society.