SEPTEMBER 01, 1981 by LUDWIG VON MISES
The fact that the standard of living of the average American worker is incomparably more satisfactory than that of the average Hindu worker, that in the United States hours of work are shorter and children sent to school and not to the factories, is not an achievement of the government and the laws of the country. It is the outcome of the fact that the capital invested per head of the employees is much greater than in India and that consequently the marginal productivity of labor is much higher. This is not the merit of “social policies”; it is the result of the laissez faire methods of the past which abstained from sabotaging the evolution of capitalism. It is this laissez faire that the Asiatics must adopt if they want to improve the lot of their peoples.
It is false to blame the European powers for the poverty of the masses in their former colonial empires. In investing capital the foreign rulers did all they could do for an improvement in material well-being.
Economic backwardness in a foreign country, endowed by rich natural resources, hurts the interests of all those whose standard of living could be raised if a more appropriate mode of utilizing this natural wealth were adopted.
The conflict between the have-nots and the haves is a real conflict. But it is present only in a world in which any sovereign government is free to hurt the interests of all peoples—its own included—by depriving the consumers of the advantages a better exploitation of this country’s re- sources would give them. It is not sovereignty as such that makes for war, but sovereignty of governments not entirely committed to the principles of the market economy.
The principle of each nation’s unrestricted sovereignty is in a world of government interference with business, a challenge to all other nations.