Under such rules (along, of course, with basic laws of property, contract, and tort) – and in a culture that honors bourgeois virtues and applauds innovators – there will be lots of entrepreneurs striving to earn profit (and respect) by creating new goods and services. These entrepreneurs will compete with each other, as well as with producers of older, established goods and services. The goods and services that yield profits today for their producers will be the ones that consumers, spending their own money and only their own money, today choose above all others. No finer, more objective, or more accurate test is available for determining how scarce resources should be used.
Tomorrow, of course, entrepreneurs will introduce newer products and newer production processes. Some of these, tested by market competition, will succeed. Others will fail. Some older goods and services, once profitable to produce, will become unprofitable to produce. Resources, including human labor, will shift from these older to the newer lines of production.
And so it goes in a free, prosperous, and growing market economy, day-in and day-out; year-in, year-out; decade-in, decade-out. Such an economy is controlled or guided by no one, yet it serves everyone remarkable well – if, though, with the requirement that everyone abide by the rules of the game. These rules are those listed above. These rules imply that no one has a right to any one else’s property – a rule that, in turn, implies that no producer has a right either to prevent other producers (even those in foreign countries) from competing for the patronage of her customers, or to obstruct her customers from shifting their expenditures away from her product offerings.No one guarantees that the choices won't be intensely annoying, of course. I often observe that rich people would spend their money much better if they consulted me about their choices. But on the whole, the choices made by free crowds vastly outperform those mandated by wise leaders. Why this should be so is a mystery to me, but I can't dispute it, and therefore discount all economic theories that depend on confidence in the unfettered choice of the single person who is advocating them.