Unlike stealing or taxing or highhandedly appropriating, exchange is a positive – not a zero- or negative-sum game. If Sir Botany must tempt the peasants with offers of educational services or consultation on interior decorating in order to get the barley, both he and the peasants are better off. If he just grabs it, only he is better off and they are worse off. If I buy low and sell high, I am doing both of the people with whom I deal a favor. That’s three favors done – to the seller, the buyer, and me in the middle and no one hurt except by envy’s sting. The seller and buyer didn’t have to enter the deal, and by their willingness they show they are made better off. One can say it stronger. Only such deals are just.
I was exposed to the idea of that voluntary trade is a win-win much too late in life. This is the foundation upon which we can credit our superb standard of living, but we all too often are taught to despise rather than celebrate it. We should despise, or at the very least, be more cautious of the unjust transactions.