Re: Will the free market solve everything?
Tue, 25 Feb 1997 20:30:25 +0000

> From: Lee Daniel Crocker <>
> > It was not a complete description. I make no appologies for that
> > since covering all the bases would have turned a paragraph into a
> > documentary. To do so was not necessary to the point I was
> > making.
> I'm all for brevity; I use it (perhaps too much) myself. If I
> misinterpret your elided meaning, please clarify. But what I think
> you are referring to is the very common perception of libertarian
> ideology that we have naive faith that free markets solve lots of
> human problems and makes everyone peaceful and prosperous--in short,
> the L. Neil Smith fantasy world.

That's reasonably close to my intended meaning. I would alter it
only to add a belief that free markets will inevitably yield good
results without any kind of adjustment outside of what occurs
naturally within the market itself. Most are aware that free
markets have some tendency to be self-correcting. But it appears
from much of the discussion here that some have expanded this into a
belief that free markets will be self-correcting in all possible
scenarios, and that they have no inherent failure modes.

> It is my contention that very few of the libertarians I know are
> like that. Most are more accepting of many present systems,
> wanting to change things in the free market direction where they
> feel it is needed. Some, like me, hold moral positions that the
> free market is a necessity, but even we don't think it will be
> without problems. We just believe problems in a free market are
> created by reality rather than by the state. I recognize reality's
> right to create problems for me; I make no such grant to any state.

In that case, I may well have been mistaken. At least about the
views of some Libertarians even if not all. Perhaps the real
disagreement here is not about what will make an economic system
function properly, but about what the proper function of an economic
system should be.

> You ask me to recognize that there are "problems" with capitalism
> that libertarian ideology doesn't deal with. That's two claims: (1)
> Capitalism has problems, and (2) Libertarians don't deal with them.
> The first I concede: yes, capitalism has precisely those problems
> that the nature of human life and reality have--but without those
> additional ones created by states.

It seems to me that the proper function of an economic system is to
solve some of those problems (the ones that the nature of human life
and reality have) rather than just reflecting them on a larger scale.

> The second might be true, but I
> think it may be an impression left by the fact that the most vocal
> libertarians tend to be the most evangelical, and don't like to talk
> about problems even if they do recognize them.

That thought has occurred to me.

William Kitchen

The future is ours to create.