Jay Bookman summarizes the basis of political economy.
The secret to capitalism's success is its ability to take one of mankind's most powerful emotions - greed - and harness that emotion to drive economic progress. By greedily pursuing our own individual self-interests, the theory goes, each of us contributes almost accidentally to greater prosperity for everybody.
Led "as if by an invisible hand" and all that.

The fun begins because the incentive is a means to an end for some participants in the society of perfect liberty, and an end in itself for others.  That's before we dig into such things as monopolies, cartels, and rent-seekers.

Hence Mr Bookman's frustration.  "If there is a better, more productive system for meeting the physical needs of human life, we haven't found it yet."

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