“You are the spring that puts all the rest in motion; they would not stir a step without you.”
John Wesley (1703–1791) was talking about the slave trade and was impugning the buyers and owners of slaves as equally culpable as those who captured and sold them, those who “would not stir a step” without buyers for their wares.
But his observation applies to all transactions in a market economy, whether morally permissible or impermissible. The customer is king, whether he is buying illegal drugs or organic, cage-free eggs.
Recognizing the primacy of the buyer in the market economy is a key step in making appropriate moral judgments as well as formulating sound public policy.