Commercial activities that provide goods and services

Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (such as goods and services). Simply put, it is "any activity or enterprise entered into for profit. It does not mean it is a company, a corporation, partnership, or have any such formal organization, but it can range from a street peddler to General Motors".

  • Corporatism - Socio-economic system in which large businesses exert influence over and benefit from government policies
  • Deregulation - Elimination of laws and rules imposed on an industry
  • Electric Power - The production and distribution of electricity
  • Entrepreneurs - Individuals who organize and assume the risks of a business
  • Entrepreneurship - Managerial skills and willingness to take risks in the production of goods and services
  • Farming - The business of agriculture
  • Mining - The business of extracting ores or metals
  • Transportation - The means and equipment used for the movement of passengers and goods


Antitrust Reform: Predatory Practices and the Competitive Process, by Dominick T. Armentano, The Review of Austrian Economics, 1989
Examines so-called "predatory" practices from various perspectives, such as the purported "intent" of lower prices, pricing "below cost" and the alleged effects on "consumer welfare"
"If the business world were purely competitive, costs could (in some sense) be said to determine market prices. But the actual business world is not, and cannot, be purely competitive ... The existence of product differentiation, transactions costs,changing information, and uncertainty—both short- and long-run—all prevent the realization of any static competitive equilibria. And in a world of uncertainty and change, all cost-determining-price rules ... become irrelevant for policy purposes. Yet most of the criticisms of firm predation and of business 'excess capacity' are deeply rooted in static equilibrium welfare analysis."
Related Topics: Free Market, Prices
A Tribute to John T. Flynn, by Adam Young, 31 Jan 2003
Biographical overview followed by quotes from Flynn's writings on FDR, Roosevelt's monument, the New Deal and the Roosevelt myth
"The word 'business' is well understood by our people. It refers to that collection of great and small enterprises which produce goods and services for the population. It does two things. It produces our food, our clothes, our luxuries and necessities; it provides, also, the jobs by which the people earn the income with which they can purchase these things. As Roosevelt came into power one might have supposed that business was some gigantic criminal conspiracy against the welfare of the nation. He began with a sweeping attack upon business and he kept it up until the war."
Bourgeois Virtues?, by Deirdre McCloskey, Cato Policy Report, May 2006
Offers an apologia (formal defense) of capitalism, in particular of the phrase "bourgeois virtues" as being neither a contradiction in terms nor a lie
"A fourth [virtue] is the Courage to venture on new ways of business. But it is also the courage to overcome the fear of change, to bear defeat unto bankruptcy, to be courteous to new ideas, to wake up next morning and face fresh work with cheer, resisting the despairing pessimism of the clerisy from 1848 to the present. ... Another is the Faith to honor one's community of business. But it is also the faith ... to sustain traditions of commerce ... Another is the Hope to imagine a better machine."
Do Greedy Spinach Merchants Want To Kill You?, by Lew Rockwell, Mises Daily, 6 Oct 2006
Comments on the September 2006 North American E. coli outbreak in spinach, the reaction by merchants and intervention by government agencies
"The story might have ended there, as the groceries ... the baggers ... and the farmers looked more carefully ... and otherwise sought to fix the problem. And why wouldn't they? They are all in business to make money. You can only make money by selling things that people want, and this much is absolutely certain: people don't want spinach that makes them sick. ... Whenever government demonizes merchants, it encourages the view that we must be forever on the lookout for dishonest business people who are seeking to make us sick, and from whom only the great civil servants in government can protect us."
Fixing Airport Security, by Robert W. Poole, Jr., Intellectual Ammunition, 1 Nov 2001
Published shortly before the establishment of the Transportation Security Administration, recommends that U.S. airport security be handled the way it has been done in Europe, and Heathrow in particular, by turning airports into business enterprises
"In Europe today, an airport is seen as a business: an enterprise run by qualified (and highly paid) professionals, serving a number of different customers, and expected to make a profit (and pay taxes!) by doing so. Since ... 1987 ... 17 U.K. airports have shifted into the private sector. ... the corporate model has led to more professional management and increased resources for meeting customer needs--including security. By contrast, the United States is still stuck with the old model: the airport ... Run by civil servants, it is not expected to take (entrepreneurial) risks, or to take major responsibilities ..."
Free Markets Aren't Conservative, by Sheldon Richman, Nov 2001
Explains why businesses, especially the larger and well established ones, favor business regulations and taxes
"Businessmen, going back at least to the era of mercantilism 400 years ago, have typically embraced government as an effective tool to protect themselves from competitors. ... Taxes that make it difficult to accumulate capital to expand or set up businesses clearly favor established business leaders even if they have to pay the same taxes. The same is true for regulations. Older and bigger firms can more easily contend with such burdens than newer, smaller ones can."
Give Freedom Its Turn in Latin America, by Manuel Ayau, Imprimis, Nov 1984
Paper given at Hillsdale College; argues that problems in Latin American countries are systemic and are due to a "lack of understanding of the economic principles and ethics of a free society"
"Another very significant pressure group preventing progress are the businessmen themselves. This is because those persons who are successful under the current system are not anxious to see things change. They instinctively perceive that their talents or connections, which have brought them riches or power, might not be the same ones to succeed if the rules of the game should change. They have the know-how and the know-who. If the economies were suddenly freed, their world might fall apart; any upstart could try to do better than they, and might even displace them. They have a vested interest in the system ..."
Government in Business, by Murray Rothbard, The Freeman, Sep 1956
Contrasts characteristics of government-run enterprises with those of privately operated businesses and counters the argument of running government "like a business"
"Have you ever heard of a private firm proposing to 'solve' a shortage of the product it sells by telling people to buy less? Certainly not. Private firms welcome customers, and expand when their product is in heavy demand thus servicing and benefiting their customers as well as themselves."
Related Topic: Government
Henry Grady Weaver's Classic Vision of Freedom, by John Hood, The Freeman, Aug 1997
Expanded version of Hood's introduction to the 1997 edition of Weaver's The Mainspring of Human Progress; discusses the changing attitudes towards business during the second half of the 20th century
"During the 1940s and 1950s, most Americans held business as an institution in high esteem ... Aristotle wrote about trading and business profits in his Nicomachean Ethics and Politics. Major portions of Old Testament books such as Deuteronomy contain rules for ethical business practice. Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations ... also discusses in depth the social context and impact of commercial activity. Smith was ... a theologian and ethicist, not a businessman or economist. Karl Marx was no economist, either, and had never set foot in a factory, but his critical analysis of business behavior changed the course of history."
Mises: Defender of Freedom, by George Reisman, Mises Daily, 29 Sep 2006
Written on the 125th anniversary of his birth, describes several of Mises' contributions to economics theory and other areas, along with some of Reisman's personal reminiscences
"Every day, there are countless businessmen who are planning to expand or contract their firms, who are planning to introduce new products or discontinue old ones, planning to open new branches or close down existing ones, planning to change their methods of production or continue with their present methods, planning to hire additional workers or let some of their present ones go. And every day, there are countless workers planning to improve their skills, change their occupations or places of work, or to continue with things as they are; and consumers, planning to buy homes, cars, stereos, steak or hamburger ..."
Monopolies versus the Free Market, Part 1, by Gregory Bresiger, Future of Freedom, Sep 2006
Contrasts state-backed monopolies or quasi-monopolies vs. regular businesses in a free market, with historical and current examples, and discusses antitrust laws
"By contrast, businesses that achieve total — or almost total — market share of what they produce are not protected from competition by laws. Such businesses depend entirely on customer satisfaction that comes from the business's successfully fulfilling the wants of consumers. Such success is often short-lived. ... Neither Microsoft nor Wal-Mart, for example, can legally force a consumer to buy its products. Today these are large companies. But 10 or 20 years from now, they may well have gone the way of F.W. Woolworth's. The latter was once a strong retailer. "
Objectivist Ethics in the Information-Age Economy, by Nathaniel Branden, Navigator, Feb 2001
After reviewing human progress, from hunter to farmer to laborer to thinker, argues that what he calls "Objectivist ethics" are more relevant to current society
"A modern business can no longer be run by a few people who think and many people who merely do what they are told—the traditional, military, command-and-control model. Today, organizations require not only a higher level of knowledge and skill among all those who participate in the process of production, but also a higher level of independence, self-reliance, self-trust, and initiative. In a word, self-esteem. This means that in the process of wealth-production, people with a decent level of self-esteem, who embody key Objectivist virtues (at least while on the job), are now needed in large numbers."
Ports and Political Hypocrisy, by Xon Hostetter, 25 Feb 2006
Discusses the controversy over the pending acquisition of six U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World (now DP World) as part of their purchase of the British firm P&0 (Note: the transaction was later blocked by the U.S. Congress and DP sold them to AIG)
"A company that runs ports for profit is not the same as a mish-mash of international travellers coming through an airport for a variety of different reasons. ... we have a very good idea as to why Dubai Ports company wants to run these six ports — it thinks it can make money doing so! As said before, companies have every interest in protecting their investments, and they do this most obviously by turning a profit."
Related Topics: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
September 11 and the Anti-Capitalistic Mentality: An Interview with Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., for, by Lew Rockwell, Myles Kantor, FrontPage Magazine, 12 Mar 2002
Discusses the insights of Mises' The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality particularly with regard to the attacks on the World Trade Center on 11 Sep 2001
"[Mises] took it for granted that huge sectors of the intelligentsia and media are deeply ignorant of economics. In this book he addresses the problem not of ignorance but hate: hatred of the businessman and entrepreneur, and the assumptions that the business class is secretly criminal, that the rich never deserve what they own, that businesses that rake in profits by serving others through enterprise somehow 'owe' something to the 'community,' so, if they don't give it up voluntarily, it should be taken from them."
Talkers versus doers, Part II, by Thomas Sowell, 10 Jun 2004
Explains how those who criticize businesses and entrepreneurs obtain an advantage over the "doers" and how that even affects corporate contributions to the critics' causes
"These kinds of incentives and constraints help explain a strange anomaly that many have noticed — big corporations contributing much more to left-wing causes than to conservative or libertarian causes. 'For every $1.00 major corporations gave to conservative and free-market groups, they gave $4.61 to organizations seeking more government,' according to a study ... Why? ...: 'Many advocacy groups win corporate funding by threatening lawsuits and boycotts and by petitioning government regulatory bodies. Regulatory policies, in particular, give corporations a built-in incentive to pay-off left-wing activists.'"
Related Topic: Health
The Businessman and the Defense of Capitalism, by Benjamin A. Rogge, Can Capitalism Survive?, 1979
Chapter 1 of Part IX, "an explicit follow-up to the Schumpeter-based 'Can Capitalism Survive?'" (the lead essay in this volume); offers business leaders suggestions as to what to do and not to do in helping "the cause of freedom"
"To begin with, the businessman is not typically hired by the stockholders to carry on programs of social reforms; he is hired to add to the net worth of the company. ... The fact is that there is hardly a businessman in this country who is not receiving favors from government in one way or another. ... In other words, his very position may seem to require of the businessman that, in the struggle against government intervention, he be as often a part of the problem as of the solution."
The Doomslayer, by Ed Regis, Wired, Feb 1997
Lengthy essay about Simon, his research and writings, as well as critical views on his positions
"He was not one of those MBAs whose closest contact with the gritty business world was going down to the corner newsstand to purchase a copy of The Wall Street Journal. The year he got his doctorate he started and operated his own business, a mail-order firm that sold quality teas, coffees, and a book on how to make beer at home. The enterprise was successful enough, but not so much as the book he later wrote about it, How to Start and Operate a Mail-Order Business (McGraw-Hill, 1965), still in print and currently in its fifth edition."
The Federal Ripoff, by George Leef, Future of Freedom, Nov 2006
Review of The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money by Timothy P. Carney
"Today, nearly every business, either on its own or through a trade association, employs lobbyists who try to steer government policy in a 'favorable' direction. Sometimes, the political game is played defensively ... Often, however, businesses seek to use governmental power to raise prices, stifle competition, and obtain inputs it needs at artificially low prices."
The Nightmare of the New Deal, Part 2, by George Leef, Future of Freedom, Jan 2008
Review of The Forgotten Man (2007) by Amity Shlaes; discusses the Schechter Supreme Court case which caused the National Recovery Administration (NRA) to be declared unconstitutional, the 1940 election and offers some concluding remarks
"The Schechters ... ran a kosher poultry butchering business ... and were put on trial for criminal offenses against regulations ... the NRA rules forbade customers to select individual chickens they wanted, demanding that customers select a coop of birds for killing ... Both Jewish tradition and common-sense business practices had to be abandoned to conform to the authoritarian regulations ... Willkie pointed out that the New Deal had created enormous uncertainty for business and investors. If there was 'idle money' in the country, the reason was ... in the hostility the administration constantly exhibited toward business."
The Six Faces of the Terrorist; The One Face of Bureaucracy, by Lew Rockwell, Mises Daily, 18 Aug 2006
Wonders how much more will Americans tolerate the searches and commands of the Transportation Security Administration agents, contrastring "public sector" security to private security and comparing the TSA and the welfare bureaucracies
"When the private sector seeks to ferret out bad guys, it goes overboard to make life wonderful and non-humiliating for the good guys. This is the difference between the public and private sector. The private sector is always seeking and soliciting the affections of the people, in the hope that the people will deign to part with their money in exchange for the good or service the firm provides. That's not an easy thing to do. You have to be pretty wonderful in order to get people to voluntarily purchase your stuff as versus save the money or spend it elsewhere."
Related Topics: Bureaucracy, Government, The State
The Snare of Government Subsidies, by Gary North, Mises Daily, 31 Aug 2006
Explains how government starts by granting a benefit to some group (purportedly for the public interest), someone takes advantage of the system, the group is asked to police itself, cheating grows, a crisis is perceived, leading to increased interventions
"It would help if businessmen understood the chain of events which follows from the acceptance of a government subsidy. ... The problem ... is that businessmen like the seeming safety of a government-restricted market, at least in the early stages, when they are given some power to set standards and direct production. ... Businessmen think they can find an escape in some sort of government business partnership. That is the grand illusion."
What Is the Enemy?, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Apr 2006
Discusses why corporatism, mercantilism and Big Business are the "the great institutional threat to liberty"
"The idea that businessmen have been the free markets chief antagonists should cause no surprise. As a group, businessmen tend not to be philosophical or theoretical; they pride themselves on being practical. ... businessmen tend to see nothing wrong with using the government to hedge against uncertainty. Nothing is more uncertain than what the market will bring tomorrow. ... The people who run big companies have always been prominent and influential. The affinity between them and political leaders is more or less natural, as business stability is usually associated with national well-being."
Why Markets Are Dreaded, by Tibor Machan, 27 Apr 2007
Insights on why higher education professionals prefer not to have to compete in "markets" and instead want governments to run colleges and universities
"... these academicians ... do not want to enter the market place where their income would have to be obtained solely from willing customers. That kind of dealing — such commercialization — offends them, makes them think they are no better sorts than, say, people who sell shoes, cars, life insurance, mutual funds, or kitchen utensils. No. Let these other blokes cope with the burden of having to convince customers of the value of what they have to offer them. ... They need not sweat the possibility of their customers' choosing to go elsewhere for their higher educational services."
Related Topics: Free Market, Government
Winning the Battle for Freedom and Prosperity, by John Mackey, Liberty, Jun 2006
Updated from speech given at FreedomFest 2004; after a brief background on himself, Mackey criticises the freedom movement from a marketing and branding perspective and suggests a different approach by de-emphasising some issues and prioritising others
"The most important thing I learned about business in my first year was that business wasn't based on exploitation or coercion at all. Instead I realized that business is based on voluntary cooperation. No one is forced to trade with a business; customers have competitive alternatives in the market place; employees have competitive alternatives for their labor; investors have different alternatives and places to invest their capital."


A Primer on Business Ethics
    by Tibor Machan, 2003
Related Topic: Ethics

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Business" as of 19 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.