Freedom of exchange and production within a regime of private property rights and freedom of contract harnesses self-interest to the public good. Admiration and endorsement of free markets is not – contrary to much uninformed commentary – admiration and endorsement of greed or materialism. It is, instead, the reflection of an acceptance of the reality that each person’s capacity to care for others is not unlimited.
Yet free markets work wonders in part because each person’s capacity to do no harm to other people’s persons and property is unlimited. And so when strangers meet to exchange, the law of property and contract (and tort) prompts each person to help the others, for only by helping these strangers can each person help himself or herself.
-Dr. Don Boudreaux (Economics)
(H/T: Cafe Hayek)