सामाजिक उत्थान के लिए बाजार का प्रयोग

 

 

मिल्टन फ्रीडमैन ने अमेरिका, यूरोप, चीन और सोवियत रूस में निजीकरण की प्रवृत्ति की छानबीन की और इस निष्कर्ष पर पहुंचे कि आर्थिक स्वतंत्रता का कोई एक तय मार्ग नहीं होता है और इस दौरान सांस्कृतिक भिन्नताओं का भी ध्यान रखना आवश्यक है।  

चीन की पहले की यात्रा के दौरान के एक प्रकरण ने मुझे काफी प्रभावित किया कि समझदारी के बीच की चौड़ी खाई विभिन्न आर्थिक संस्थाओं से जुड़े लोगों को अलग अलग करती है। यह आधारभूत सिद्धांतों और विचारों पर बार बार जोर डालने को अत्यंत महत्वपूर्ण बनाती है, कि हम सभी उस व्यवस्था से जिसके अभ्यस्त होते हैं, उससे संबंधित सभी वस्तुओं को हल्के में ले लेते हैं। यह प्रकरण तब हुआ जब मैं और मेरी पत्नी दोपहर का भोजन सरकारी विभाग के एक मंत्री के साथ, जो जल्द ही अमेरिकी अर्थव्यवस्था का मुआयना करने यूएस जाने वाले थे, कर रहे थे। हमारा मेजबान, वहां किससे मुलाकात की जाए इस बाबत हमारी सहायता चाहता था।

उसका पहला प्रश्न था कि, “यूएस में सामग्री वितरण का प्रभारी कौन है”?  उस प्रश्न ने मुझे और मेरी पत्नी को अचंभे में डाल दिया। मुझे नहीं लगता है कि यूनाइटेड स्टेट्स का कोई भी निवासी, अर्थशास्त्र को लेकर चाहे कितना भी अनभिज्ञ क्यों न हो, ऐसा प्रश्न करने की सोच भी सकता है। वह एक ऐसी परिस्थति का अभ्यस्त है एक व्यक्ति निर्णय लेता है कि कौन, किससे क्या पाता है। या फिर कौन, किससे, कौन सी वस्तु लेता है या कौन, किससे, कितनी मजदूरी लेता है।

वास्तविक लेख निम्न है...

An episode during an earlier visit to China impressed me strongly with the wide gulf of understanding that separates people immersed in different economic institutions. That gulf makes it extremely important to stress over and over basic principles and idea that all of us simply take for granted with respect to the system to which we are accustomed. The episode in question occurred when my wife and I had lunch with a deputy minister of one of the government departments who was shortly going to the United States to observe the American economy. Our host wanted help from us on whom to see.

His first question is that connection was, “Who in the United States is in charge of materials distribution?” That question took my wife and me aback.; I doubt that any resident of the United States, however unsophisticated about economics, would even think of asking such a question. Yet it was entirely natural for a citizen of a common economy to ask such a question. He is accustomed to a situation in which somebody decides who gets what from whom, whether that be who gets what materials from whom or who gets what wages from whom.

My initial answer was to suggest he visit the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where commodities such as wheat, cotton, silver, and gold are traded. This answer understandably baffled our host, so I went on to elaborate on the fact that there was no single person - or even a committee of persons - “in charge of materials distribution.” There are a Department of Commerce and a Department of the Interior that are concerned with materials of production and distribution in a wholly different way. But they do not determine who gets how much of what. In consequence, I was forced to answer in terms that my host found extremely difficult to comprehend. Needless to say, that is not a criticism of him. Given his background, it is almost inconceivable that he could have understood how the market can distribute a variety of materials among millions of different people for thousands of uses untouched as an ad might say, by political hands.

The miracle of the market is precisely that out of the chaos of people screaming at one another, making arcane signals with their hands and fighting on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, somehow or other the corner store always seems to have enough bread, the bakery always seem to have enough flour, the miller always seem to have enough wheat, and so on. That is the miracle of the way the market coordinate the activities of millions of people, and does so in a wholly impersonal way through pricing that, if left completely free, does not involved any corruption, bribes, special influence, or need for political mechanisms.

Let me now turn more directly to the topic. In some ways, referring to “the market” puts the discussion on the wrong basis. The market is not a cow to be milked; neither is it a sure-fire cure for all ills. In literal terms, the market is simply a meeting at a specified place and time for the purpose of making deals. Needless to say, “meeting” and “place” are often euphemisms; they do not involve physically getting together. As of the moment, there is a market in foreign exchange that encompasses the world. People get together through satellites, telephones, and so on. Moreover, the deals made in or through a market are not restricted to those involving money, purchases, or sales. Scientists who cooperate with one another in advancing their discipline, whether it be physics, chemistry, economics or astronomy, are effectively making deals with one another. Their market is a set of interrelated journals, conferences, and so on.

The market is a mechanism that may be mobilized for any number of purposes. Depending on the way it is used, it may contribute to social and economic development or inhibit such development. Using or not using the market is not the crucial distinction. Every society, whether communist, socialist, social democratic, purely capitalist, or what you will, uses the market. Rather, the crucial distinction is private property or no private property. Who are the participants in the market and on whose behalf are they operation? Are the participants government bureaucrats who are operating on behalf of something called the state? Or are they individuals operating directly or indirectly on their own behalf? That is why, in an earlier paper delivered in China, I advocated the widest possible use of not the market but “free, private markets.” These words “free” and “private” are even more important than the word “market.”

Many specific problems arise when a society tries to replace a command economy with the invisible hand of the market, of which I shall discuss only a few. Those problems are not restricted to societies that have tried to command as their basic economic mechanism, such as China and Russia; they also arise in Western economies such as the United States, Great Britain, and Germany, in which command elements have become more extensive over time and in which there are attempts to reverse that process. Eliminating government-owned enterprises in the West, such as the postal service in the United States and railroads and utilities in other countries raises problems that are identical with those that arise in replacing command and public ownership by voluntary cooperation and private ownership in China, Russia and so on.

 

To be continued...