Re: Will the free market solve everything?
Tue, 25 Feb 1997 02:33:49 +0000

> From: Lee Daniel Crocker <>
> > 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.

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
simply mentioned the aspects of Libertarian belief that I happened to
be addressing. There is much more to Libertarian ideology, and free
markets are governed by many interacting forces. I suspect that most
people reading this thread don't need to have either of those things
explained to them. If I say that a car is red, that does not mean
that "red" is the entirety of my understanding about the car. If you
are not capable of mentally fleshing out the details enough to
prevent imagining that I have "bizarre ideas about what a free market
is", then that is your deficiency, not mine.

> "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.

By "stable" I only mean that it remains productive, as opposed to
grinding to a halt or exploding in a conflict. I did not mean to
imply that it is unchanging.

> ...... "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.

"Highest correlation of effort with reward" is something I would
include in the definition of "fair". Might also add some degree of
equality of opportunity.

Lack of coercion is a desireable ideal, but it is not the feature
that makes free markets successful. It is the promise of reaping some
reward in return for your productivity. Without a reasonable
correlation of effort with reward, and without a reasonable
opportunity for success, then the incentive to produce disappears.
Without those two elements, you are left with something that is no
more productive than pure socialism. Perhaps even worse since even
coercion is more effective than no incentive at all.

Are you arguing that these ideas, whether you include them in the
definition of "fair" or not, are not an integral part of the
Libertian ideal of a free market economy? It is because of these
elements that capitilism has enjoyed such success.

> > 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--

Good example. I'm sure further research would reveal others. But my
point was simply that there are potential scenarios by which a free
market economy can produce less than optimal, or even
counterproductive results (like inferior products, high prices,
survival of the fattist instead of the fittest, etc.) I'm not
arguing that such things happen in every possible case. Are you
arguing that they don't happen at all?

> ...... 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.

I haven't mentioned monopolies and wasn't planning to. If I happen
accross a good example I'll be sure to mention it. For now you seem
to be arguing with yourself.

> > 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.

I really don't mind sincere requests for clarification, but this
isn't it and I'll use any words I damn well please. I could pester
you to define the words that you have used. Words like "justified",
"detriment" and "moral". We could go back and forth for weeks
nitpicking over minutia. But it would serve no useful purpose. If
my ideas had been too vaguely described for you to understand them, I
doubt they would have grabbed your attention enough for you to take
the time to reply at such length.

William Kitchen

The future is ours to create.