Subject: Re: Fwd: Wall Street article on a new Cooperative
From: Jerry Dwyer <>
Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2004 17:59:30 -0400

Bernard Lang wrote:

>On Wed, Apr 21, 2004 at 04:14:36AM +0800, Benjamin J. Tilly  wrote:
>>"Stephen J. Turnbull" <> wrote:
>>>Life's like that, ya know?  Much of the time the "problem" here is
>>>just that Individual A succumbed to the temptation to confuse his
>>>personal interest with "the public interest" just because everybody he
>>>hangs out with is like him.
>I find this offensive to the many people who work or vote against
>their own personal interest.  Public interest is hard to define because
>it involves lots of conflicting issues, which can be valued
>differenlty by different individuals ... etc ...
Steve also wrote, better than I can say it, that

More precisely, you trust in individuality, which means that interests
are partially compatible, rather than wholly conflicting, and
voluntariness, which means that nobody has to accede to an arrangement
that is a net loss to them ex ante.  Adam Smith is not talking about a
balance of power, he's talking about a system of mutually beneficial
arrangements, provably so because they are voluntary.

There is no reason to be offended. Steve means that it is hard to make 
other people worse off if you don't have the ability to force them to do 
things that they don't want to do. There are exceptions, and these are 
pretty well understood (even if people often don't agree about these 
exceptions), and the overall result still remains. Whatever "public 
interest" means to you or me, many of our actions actually make other 
people better off as those other people see it, even if we don't intend 
to do that.

There is nothing in economics that limits its application to selfish 
people. Mother Teresa had economic problems to solve, just the same as 
everyone else. She helped dying people in Calcutta the best that she 
could given the resources that she had available and what she knew.

Jerry Dwyer