I’ve been on a bit of a tear where I’ve been writing about some pet peeves of mine. But that’s okay, because it at least gives me something to write about. It also allows me to flesh out my ideas about why I have a problem with these things so that I can better debate the people who think things that grind my gears. So what’s has Rollo annoyed today?
Do you believe in free markets?
I mean, seriously, do you believe that free markets are the way to go? Saying “Well, yeah, for the most part” is not a good answer. That means no. If you believe that markets should mostly be free, then you don’t believe that markets should be free. Free is a very specific term. If people are truly free, there is no one influencing their actions. Everything free people do is voluntary. And since markets are simply a collection of these interactions, if the people aren’t free, there’s no way for the market to be free.
This frustrates a lot of people. Many who consider themselves to be conservatives and supportive of free markets, don’t actually truly want free markets. Just flip on some conservative talk radio shows. I know I’ve heard Sean Hannity say several times that he supports capitalism and free markets, but that there needs to be some regulation by the government. This means they support central planning, but most conservatives will have a cow over you telling them that.
Usually, when I ask the question of why the government needs to be involved at all, the response is “It’s to prevent greed from taking over.” I’m not even going to touch the ambiguity of what that actually means, but how does one suppose that the people put in charge of preventing greed in markets aren’t greedy themselves? Or what if the officials tasked with regulating the markets are paid by the greedy people?
Of the following choices, which do you think is better? You can vote once every year or two and hope that the guy that you want elected (even though you actually aren’t even that big of a fan of what he says he wants to do) does some good in regulating markets. Or another option is to use the power of your money to “vote” every day on which products and services you use, giving money to only those businesses you believe deserve your hard-earned pay.
People like the regulation, but the problem is they don’t always realize that despite a market being free, it can still be regulated. Check our sidebar. As of now, we only have one article up, but there are a ton of free market regulators out there. More would pop up if the government released its monopoly on regulation. To name a few off the top of my head, there’s Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Factory Mutual (FM), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the MIB Group, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and the Compressed Gas Association (CGA). You’re probably familiar with groups like UL, FM, and the BBB, but most people don’t know about groups like the ASME and CGA, which are instrumental in keeping nearly everyone safe. In addition to these groups, insurance companies would provide much of the private regulation of markets (and these private regulation groups would pop up to support the insurance companies).
So is it still a free market if private regulators prevent someone from selling a product or service? First of all, to be clear, no private regulator would actively prevent anyone from selling anything, but if you can’t demonstrate that you can follow their rules, you don’t earn their stamp of approval. And with that goes much of the chance of being able to get insurance and/or consumer confidence. To put it another way, just because you desire to sell a product does not mean that you’ll be able to. You’re free to sell whatever you want, but if no one wants to buy it, you’re out of luck. For example, how many people are going to take me up on an offer that I’ll punch you in the face if you pay me $10?
In closing, make sure you know what you actually believe and support. Understand what a free market truly is and then decide if you support its existence.