When a person is leaving a restaurant or any other retail establishment, who should be saying “Thank you”—the seller or the buyer?
The answer is: Both. That’s because they are both benefiting from the transaction from their own individual, subjective perspectives. That is, they are each giving up something they value less for something they value more. Thus, at the moment of the trade, they have both improved their state of being, from their own individual, subjective perspective.
When one buys a burger, he places a higher value on the burger than on the money he is paying for the burger. It’s the other way around for the owner of the burger establishment. He places a higher value on the money than he does on the burger. Therefore, both the seller and the buyer say “Thank you” because they are both benefiting from the trade.
That’s the way every economic exchange works. People give up things they value less for things they value more. Thus, people’s standard of living can increase through the simple act of trade.
Therefore, it stands to reason that the more opportunities that people have to trade with others, the greater the ability to increase their standard of living. That principle applies, of course, to everyone all over the world. The more choices, the better the chance of finding satisfactory trade opportunities.
Thus, to the extent that government interferes with people’s ability to trade with others, to that extent the government is inhibiting people’s ability to increase their standard of living. That’s a big reason why such things as trade wars, protectionism, tariffs, sanctions, embargoes, and other trade restrictions are bad. They reduce people’s ability to increase their standard of living through trade.
The biggest reason, however, why governmental trade restrictions are illegitimate is the freedom reason: People have the fundamental, natural, God-given right to trade with whomever they want. After all, its their private property. No government can legitimately infringe on people’s fundamental, natural, God-given rights.
So, whenever you’re buying something from retail establishments (or wholesale ones too), feel free to thank them because they have enabled you to better your economic condition. And the same, of course, applies to them.