Re: Will the free market solve everything?

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Sun, 23 Feb 1997 17:32:43 -0800 (PST)

> The standard Libertarian (and Republican) belief is that free market
> economies inherently favor the smartest, hardest working
> entrepreneurs and best products. This is true. But they also hold
> a belief that this principle causes free market economies to be
> inherently stable and fair. This is not true.

If you have such bizarre ideas about what a free market is, no wonder
you have reservations. Free markets don't encourage the best products,
and never have. They encourage the economically most efficient products.
If you have a quality product, but it costs a dollar more than people
can pay for an inferior one, or it came to market a few weeks later,
you'd better not bet your mortgage on it. Just look at the software
industry: a buggy product /now/ is "better" than a stable product in a
month, because people can do real work with it, get used to it, show
it to their friends, create data dependent on it, etc.

"Stable" is exactly what a free market isn't--and why it's superior to
any possible planned market. Stability is stagnation. Stability is
death. The free market is just that--free. Wild, careless, changing,
ALIVE. "Fair" is a moral judgment, and since we agoriarchists define
the free market as the consequence of the moral principle that coercive
force is never justified to transfer property, it is the only system
that can be moral by definition. If you have some other definition of
"fair", say, the most egalitarian in result, or the least random in
result, or the highest correlation of effort with reward, then some
system other than the free market might have that property, but it will
require coercion and will likely be less productive than a free market.

> Those who control great wealth can win even when market dynamics
> should have made it otherwise. Likewise, those who control little
> wealth will often not see rewards that reflect their level of
> prodictivity, thus diminishing the incentive to be productive.

This is a common arguent, but plainly at odds with the evidence. In
the one time in history when the US had about the freest market (in
the late 1800s), Standard Oil used every dirty trick in the book--
price fixing, undercutting, cartels, tying agreements with railroads,
even physical intimidation of competitors, to buy up over 85% of the
market in petroleum. They never could get up to 90%, and after they
peaked they started falling, despite continued anti-competitive
practices. By the time congress decided to meddle with the Sherman
Act (yes, /before/ the act was passed), their market share was 65%
and falling. The Sherman Act actually helped them by preventing
their competitors from colluding against them. No monopoly at any
time in history existed without government support. Before you use
"monopolies" as an example if market failure, name one. Just one.
One single example if a free-market monopoly taking advantage of its
position to people's detriment. You can't--it's a myth.

> Capitalism is good, but it is not perfect. We can address the
> imperfections and create an economy that works, or we can deny the
> imperfections and create one that does not.

As soon as you define "perfect" and "working", I'll be able to argue
rationally. Until you do, your words are meaningless. I have
defined my terms for you: a free market is the consequence of the
principle that coercive force is /never/ justified to take property.
Now that principle will have certain consequences about which we can
rationally argue. But you must name them precisely and define them
objectively--stop using words like "fair", "just", or "good" until
you tell me what they mean. If you have a specific meaning in mind,
it may well be that a free market won't accomplish that, and I'll be
the first one to tell you it doesn't. In fact, it's likely that
what you have in mind for those words is not possible at all, under
any system.

Lee Daniel Crocker <>