Saturday, November 06, 2021

Is the free market ever really free?

To what extent is our economy really a free market economy? Is government involved in the economy to a large extent even when it appears as if we have a free market?

35 comments:

bmiller said...

All economies are a combination of white markets, grey markets and black markets.

Probably never has been a "free market" in the sense that all transactions were legal.

bmiller said...

Not even in the Garden of Eden.

Starhopper said...

Take cars. You're pretty much free to choose which car you want to buy (as long as you can afford it, of course), but we're mostly not free to choose to not own one. Our cities, our infrastructure, and our living arrangements pretty much compel us to own a car whether we want to or not.

It's getting that way with smart phones. I've successfully resisted not buying one so far, but it's getting harder to live without one. For instance, it's almost impossible to find a decent up to date road atlas any more. It's expected that you'll use your phone to find yourself around. I've heard anecdotes about restaurants having done away with hardcopy menus (I wouldn't know, since I never eat out.) and airports requiring you to flash one of those weird square codes at the gate in order to board the plane. (Again, I never fly, so I rely on what others tell me.) You can no longer just hail a cab, you have to call Uber (again, through your smart phone).

So no, the market is not really free.

Starhopper said...

Actually, the market had better not ever be totally "free". That would imply that it's OK to peddle snake oil as a miracle cure, or that cigarettes don't impair your health. It would mean that auto manufacturers needn't worry about safety features or pollution standards. It would be an open door to discrimination and redlining.

No, thank you!

Limited Perspective said...

The government (in the the United States and most other governments) is the best place to get your cash.

Free markets? Look to neighborhood yard sales, the Mexican lady who sells me her tamales every few of weeks (no food safety laws governing her). As for free markets for a nation? Doesn't exist.

Doing honest financial transactions? It's the most honest and insecure way to make a living.

Limited Perspective said...

Oh, and by honest I mean dealing honestly with your client and trying to keep up with all the laws regarding your business.

Limited Perspective said...

Starhopper,

Rather than trying to figure out the complex engineering, material science, supply chains, safety, marketing, government regulations, profit-loss, workers, of the auto industry which you know nothing about, try a business that serves your neighbors.

Try something that helps your neighbors have a better life. Maybe mow their lawn, cook them dinner, clean up their dog's poop, wash windows, paint their house. Something useful. Then charge them a living wage for your service. Do something useful and ask for the money you earned. Start there and not some theoretical auto production you nothing about.

Limited Perspective said...

Also Starhopper,

When you charge your customer for the work did, you have to factor in the your self-employment taxes and do your best to keep up with the Code of Federal Regulations. I understand this is way too complex for most people.

Starhopper said...

Limited,

At 70 years old with severely limited mobility (I cannot walk 100 yards without assistance, and live in constant danger of falling), I can sadly do none of those things you listed for my neighbors. I can't even do them for myself. You have chosen the appropriate screen name - your perspective is truly limited. Try learning about people before mouthing off.

Limited Perspective said...

I accept your criticism. I am sorry for attacking you personally not knowing your circumstances. As my name implies, my perspective is limited.

bmiller said...

Limited,

People who start and run businesses are the backbone of America's prosperity. They put their savings at risk to get things running with no guarantees of success and if they are somewhat successful they create the jobs that let others feed their families and make a living.

People who work for the "government" wouldn't have a job without them. It's often people who work in the government who don't have a clue how anything works. We wouldn't have indoor plumbing if we had to rely on those people to build things.

Starhopper said...

No argument, except the dependency works both ways. They each need the other. Small business relies on a government that provides the roads, the monetary system, the security, and the stability necessary for business to operate. And government cannot replace what small business can do. That was proven in the Soviet Union with its economically disastrous 5 Year Plans.

bmiller said...

Spoken like a government employee.

Limited Perspective said...

Miller,

Mr. Starhopper is acknowledging my point. He is also arguing the role government has in basic commerce of a stable society. I don't have a disagreement with that.

He's not calling us a racist, bigot, white supremist, Nazi, homophobe, transphobe, sexist, Islamophobia, white nationalist...(can't remember all the names they call people).

I have no disagreement with his last comment.

bmiller said...

I think he ignored your point about the code of federal regulations and how government can hurt businesses.

Government action can help small businesses but can also hurt them. Take for example the various lock-downs recently. Small businesses were ruined while Amazon's monopoly grew.

One Brow said...

bmiller,

You mean, the way government has hurt butchers by setting standards for meat quality?

The pandemic killed small businesses, and if you think most of them would have survived had there been no lockdowns, you're kidding yourself. For the most part, the people who approved of a lock-down (not that we ever had one here) would have stayed home anyhow, and those disapproving tended to flout it.

Starhopper said...

Yes, government does on occasion hurt specific businesses. But the good it does far, far outweighs any bad. Without government, there'd be no money. Everything would have to be traded on the barter system. Without government, there'd be no transportation network to get your products to market, or to get needed raw materials and supplies. Without government, you'd be at the mercy of highwaymen and other bandits the moment you left the security of your neighborhood. Without government, the mafia would run "protection rackets" on every street with no one to stop them. Without government, there'd be no one to ensure that the customer was not buying poisoned food or unsafe products, or to set standards. Without government, there'd be no ability to break up monopolies. I could go on, but essentially government enables society to function. No government equals Somalia or Lebanon, violent anarchy and the absolute dictatorship of the strongest and best armed.

As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization."

bmiller said...

The US constitution allows for a limited role for the federal government. That is in line with the principle of subsidiarity.

Without government, there'd be no money.
Money is basically an IOU that is exchangable for real goods. It was used before governments got involved. Governments got involved since they provided more confidence that the IOU was going to be honored. So I'd say good governments help the economic system. Bad ones hurt it.

Without government, there'd be no transportation network
Again I think this is an overstatement. I could agree that good governments can improve the transportation system and trade by providing a mutually agreed upon way of standardizing things.

Without government, you'd be at the mercy of highwaymen and other bandits the moment you left the security of your neighborhood. Without government, the mafia would run "protection rackets" on every street with no one to stop them.
Again, without GOOD government those things are true as we can see in a lot of major cities right now.

Without government, there'd be no one to ensure that the customer was not buying poisoned food or unsafe products, or to set standards.
People still get poisoned food and there are still unsafe products, but at least it's a good thing that mutually agreed upon standards are set so merchants don't sell things without knowing there is a standard. But people criticize the FDA for being both too strict and too lax in setting those standards.

I don't know anyone who's argued that there should be NO government period. So arguing against that position is a strawman.

I think we agree that governments improve society by providing a means of propagating standards that individuals can then use to more efficiently interact. But the standards should be local as much as possible as the constitution states. The framers were well aware what happens when the central government interferes in local matters and were loath to allow that in the US.

Starhopper said...

I think that recent school board meetings show that local government is no better and no worse than larger jurisdictions. That, and the old saying "You can't fight city hall!" indicates that local government can be just as frustrating as state or federal. I do agree that there is probably some ideal size, but I believe most US states are way too small, while the US fed govt is certainly too large. (Ditto for the European Union.) Something like Germany, France, or Poland is likely the right size.

bmiller said...

Local shady school boards getting taken to the woodshed by local parents is democracy in action. It's much easier for citizens to go to those meetings and straighten things out rather than the state capital or DC. That's why it's better to keep the decision-making as close to the citizens as possible.

Size has nothing to do with it.

Starhopper said...

I dunno. I think size matters. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

bmiller said...

Keeping it classy.

Limited Perspective said...

As a note on the CFR, I was a little under the weather this week and spent some time watching the Rittenhouse trial.

I noticed the court was in violation of the very CFR part I quoted a few conversations back. They had unlabeled bottles of what I'm pretty sure is disinfectant. Disinfectants are a registered pesticide with the EPA. Having unlabeled bottles of hazardous chemicals is in violation of federal law. Not even the superior court can keep the letter of the law.

I'm sure if it turns out the guy in charge of the disinfectant is a Trump supporter, Victor would relish the sight of the poor son-of-a-bitch being taken down by federal authorities.

bmiller said...

Limited,

Now you get it. Lefties are for justice just in-so-far as it punishes their opponents and/or rewards their allies. Anything else is unjust.

Starhopper said...

And righties are for free and fair elections only if their candidate wins. Otherwise, it was "rigged".

Limited Perspective said...

Starhopper, challenging elections is not a "righties" thing. Bush/Gore Florida 2000. Russian hacking the election 2016. Even the good Professor fell for that conspiracy theory. Stacy Abrams became a hero in the Democratic party by challenging the results of the 2018 gubernatorial election. If you guys could come up with some consistent standards it will be helpful.

Starhopper said...

First of all, I am not a "leftist". I fail to understand what the term even means. (I've been over this with bmiller multiple times. It makes no sense to label someone with a term that has no definition.) So I am not one of "you guys".

Secondly, Gore conceded - our most recent ex-president refuses to. And yes, the Russians did interfere in the 2016 election. I don't follow Georgia politics, co I am unfamiliar with whatever Stacy Abrams said. Unlike some people, I spend maybe 15 minutes a day thinking about politics, if that much. I have much better (and far more interesting) things to occupy my mind - the Scriptures, music, astronomy, classic cinema, WWII, books, my watercolors, and my grandkids.

bmiller said...

Limited,

Don't waste your time. Starhopper doesn't care if elections are stolen as long as his guy gets in office. He's on record.

Limited Perspective said...

"I have much better (and far more interesting) things to occupy my mind - the Scriptures, music, astronomy, classic cinema, WWII, books, my watercolors, and my grandkids."

Miller,

I can't dismiss Mr. Starhopper because I think I could have an interesting conversation on any one of these topics.

Starhopper, it would be of interest to me for you to make a brief word on any of the topics you introduced.

Here's mine:
Scriptures: John 14, Ps 37
Astronomy: Planets formation able to origen life
Music: Bach, Led Zeppelin
WWII: Engineering the B-29, the T-34. Pacific island campaigns.
Classic Cinema: The African Queen, John Wayne.
Books: The Bible, Crime and Punishment

Watercolors and Grandkids: Unfortunately, my kids are married and no grandkids yet. Watercolors--Mrs. Perspective paints in oils, likes to take me to art museums. I'm still a novice about Art

Limited Perspective said...

Also, Mr. Gore and Mrs Clinton conceited once they knew they lost. They both spent the next four years trying to call into question the election results. I think Trump should have done the same. Concede and then undermine (joke). Probably best to concede on election night and then undermine the results.

No the Russians didn't decide the election. That's bullshit

Starhopper said...

I did not claim that the Russians decided the 2016 election. I wrote that they interfered in it. Do you deny this?

I'll write a posting over on my own blog about planets and the origin of life, and link you to it. Might take a day or so.

Limited Perspective said...

Okay. To interfere means to prevent some action or process. What action or process did the Russians prevent?

Was the Russian interference enough to change the outcome of the election?

The Russians, along with many foreign countries try to influence our elections in various ways. The Mueller investigation convicted no one having anything to do with Russia. We have our first indictment of a Russian, former Soviet spy, in the news now who worked for the Clinton campaign.

Starhopper said...

"Was the Russian interference enough to change the outcome of the election?"

Probably not, but they certainly did try.

You asked for my thoughts on a variety of subjects. You can read my latest on the likelihood (or otherwise) of there being extraterrestrial life HERE.

Limited Perspective said...

Brief correction. The Mueller investigation did indict some Russians. They were all outside the country and would never have a day in court. The charges were eventually dropped by the Justice Department. It was all part of the BS of the Mueller report.

Now we have an actual Russian (Igor Danchenko) who will have a day in court, so we finally get a chance to see the evidence cross-examined. When the whole Russian conspiracy scam falls apart, I hope it'll awaken a complete disgust for the reporting that went on after 2016.

It was Clinton conspiring with a Russian.

Limited Perspective said...

Starhopper,

I read your blog post. I find the the "fine-tuning" argument for planets very compelling. The "fine-tuning" of physical constants even more compelling.

Thank you for the thoughts in the blog post.