Re: Libertarian Economics

Eric Watt Forste (
Thu, 18 Sep 1997 18:29:43 -0700

Joao Pedro writes:
> Voluntary actions? You're talking of voluntary, unselfish actions
> from the same species that constantly kills, destroys and robs
> other members of the same species? I don't think that's possible
> in today's world, there's just too many greedy and selfish persons.

Language problem here: "voluntary" has nothing to do with
"unselfish". Voluntary means uncoerced.

I prefer to stay away from higgling and haggling over selfishness
and altruism: you can come up with an altruistic rationalization
for any course of action just as easily as you can come up with a
selfish-sounding rationalization. (Well, I can, anyway, so
worrying about whether I'm being selfish or altruistic does me
no good whatsoever. The point is to do the right thing, not the
selfish or altruistic thing.)

> In all your messages there is a hate towards government, I also
> despise politicians but don't corporations 'own' the government,
> even in the U.S.? It's the same thing, the same problem.

Do the multinational corporations own the governments, or do the
governments own the multinational corporations? Which of the two
is carrying the guns (and nukes and Sarin etc.)? It's a
tangled mess, and asserting "it's the same thing" really
doesn't get us any closer to solving it.

> I'll be honest, I don't know what negative feedback is and I know
> nothing of basic economics but I always knew that "united we stand,
> divided we fall". If a corporation starts achieving a substantial
> advantage towards everyone else, as it grows, it will eventually
> become more efficient, more capable, will be able to have the most
> competitive prices and therefore, will achieve a monopoly status.
> Right?

No. Economies of scale don't automatically apply in every
industry, and there is usually a "diminishing returns" effect.
Monopolies are almost invariably the result of regulators
imposing barriers to entry in the market upon potential new
competitors. Sometimes this is done explicitly, as with the
PTTs and many country's power industries, sometimes it is done
in a more hidden manner, as with the banking industries, etc.
A market in which the two or three leaders have 60% to 80%
market share is not a monopoly. A PTT, on the other hand, is a
real monopoly, with all the insidious effects thereof.

> (I see that in Portugal every time, small shops complaining about
> big commercial centers and supermarkets)

Yes, but which do the customers complain about? Businesses
exist to serve consumers, not the other way around.

> You talk about how the market will control big corporations and
> the millions of consumers will lead the market into the best path,
> let me ask you something, why is government so corrupt? People
> theoretically control government (by voting) and still government
> is corrupt, why is that? What makes you think that indirect control
> of economy by persons is going to improve anything?

You might try a web-search on "public choice theory". I don't know
if you'll turn up anything good, but that's where you'll find some
preliminary answers to the questions you are asking. I'm sorry I
don't have a clear enough understanding of the details of public
choice theory myself to be able to whip out a snappy answer to the
particular questions you are asking.

I don't see anyone here claiming that consumers will lead the market
into the best path. Consumers will lead the market into producing
huge amounts of drugs, cosmetics, pornography, cheesy magazines,
cheap food, mediocre music, etc, just as they always have. The
claim is that the market mechanisms will do a better job than the
political mechanisms, not that they will do a perfect or optimal

> EvMick says that free-market works, my question is for whom, for
> the persons who are already wealthy or for the ones who are poor
> and have nothing?

For both.

> Since unselfish reasons rarely incentives anyone to do anything,
> let me ask you something, do you think that the poorer classes
> generated by free-markets will stand still? My bet is that they'll
> riot and that is what I fear.

The poorer clases are not generated by free markets, the poorer
classes are generated by oppressive taxation and regulation
which hinders the market from providing them with goods, jobs,
and services.

> I read books, I find it, however, much less boring and time consuming
> to ask other persons. Or do you read a book every time you have a
> doubt or a question?

This is an acceptable attitude for simple questions, like those
in astrophysics, for instance, but you are asking questions
about extremely complex phenomena. All you are likely to get
from a short-and-choppy medium like this one is some good
bibliographic references. Like I say, public-choice theory
would be one place to start, but I'm not yet familiar enough
with that literature to even be able to give you a specific
biblio ref off the top of my head.

And your asking questions about these matters on this list is
much less boring for *you* and much less time-consuming for
*you*. This is not necessarily symmetrical with regard to the
people whom you are asking to dig up this information for you,
though. I don't mind, but this is something you might take
into account when reading posts like Chris Tame's.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++ expectation foils perception -pcd