Not Economic Potential of Man, But That of Humanity

Michelangelo: The Creation of Adam // Public domain

A few days ago, there was this movie on TV, in which a hero gains superpowers by unlocking the hidden potential of his brain. You know, it’s like “a human uses only XY percent of their nerve cells“, and a right injection or a pill can wake up the rest.

I understand that the hero-individual, the savior of the world has more potential for Hollywood, but as long as the neuroscience tells us it’s not possible, the economics offers us a similar, but much more realistic miracle. It is not about unlocking the potential of an individual’s brain, but the productive potential of humanity.

Let’s do a little brain exercise. Imagine that all countries in the world would achieve economic production per capita somewhere at the level of Germany, Switzerland, or the United States. Mozambique would be like Sweden, Laos like Singapore, Bolivia like Canada. Town of Michalovce would adjoin Ukrainian version of Bern and not the poor Uzhhorod.

Indonesia would compete with the USA in aviation, Nigeria would compete with Germany in medicine production and Kishinev would be the world-leading nano-implant centre. Life in this alternative world would be richer, longer, and safer.

Sci-fi? Such an idea has no unrealistic basis. This biological nature of members of different cultures related to the ability to prosper is the same. One of the practical examples is the USA, which cannot refer to the race or the religion as a factor of its prosperity. We are, however, still missing the injection that would unlock the blocked potential.

Contrary to a Hollywood movie, there is no need for crazy inventor’s luminescence liquid. The miracle cure has been known since at least 1776, when Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations. Of course, we might be at loggerheads over the details (otherwise the bushy tree of various economic theories would not exist) but the basic description of ingredients is the same. It consists of the unrestricted and undisturbed discovery of opportunities to satisfy human needs, created by a combination of different inputs and their mutual exchange between people.

This process is disrupted by direct violence, but also by bans, orders, or something we would call a “taboo”, i.e. the demonization of trade, entrepreneurship, or profit.

Be it America or Britain in the 19th century, post-war Germany, or the Chinese reforms of the 1980s, one thing is certain: the more opened the countries are inwards and outwards, the more they unlock their potential. Unfortunately, we have been seeing more and more fake medicine applied lately. Entrepreneurship, trade, or production itself is being demonized.

The cornerstones of the progress are being lost under empty slogans about a “new” recipe which is said to be better than the free trade and entrepreneurship. In this way, we do not gain superpowers, quite the opposite…

Translated by Paulína Ivanišová

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