Friday, January 20, 2023

Free Market Fundamentalism

 A frequently held position is that the best results can be achieved by allowing the free market to operate, and attempts by government to correct it in the interest of fairness simply make matters worse instead of better. This is a very typical conservative economic philosophy. On the other hand, because of a pre-existing condition, I was never able to get health insurance until the Affordable Care Act was passed, and without insurance I would never have been able to get the surgery I needed six years ago. (I realize that what is good for me might be bad in general, but I would like to see some proof that this is the case.) Would the free market have mandated, for instance, warning labels on cigarettes, or even putting ingredient information on canned goods? This view is called "free market fundamentalism" and it doesn't seem to me to be supported by the evidence.

Is there good reason to believe this? If so, what is it?

15 comments:

bmiller said...

The Law

Victor Reppert said...

Apparently conservatives are backing away from this FMF position.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/02/the-return-of-conservative-economics/

One Brow said...

bmiller,

Do you support this definition of legal plunder?

But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.

If so, does it extend to the decisions on who can use your body and who can't?

Would drafting people be legal plunder?

Starhopper said...

"Would drafting people be legal plunder?"

No, but it would be involuntary servitude, which is prohibited by the 13th Amendment.

"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

bmiller said...

That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen

One Brow said...

bmiller,

I thank you for revealing the bankruptcy of Bastiat and his ilk:
You compare the nation, perhaps, to a parched tract of land, and the tax to a fertilizing rain. Be it so. But you ought also to ask yourself where are the sources of this rain and whether it is not the tax itself which draws away the moisture from the ground and dries it up?

The proper source of the metaphorical rain is evaporation from the swamp and the ocean, where the water is so plentiful that soil is in need of drying or seems to never run out.

bmiller said...

Government

“Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.”

Starhopper said...

So you prefer anarchy? Good luck with that!

David Brightly said...

The term 'free market fundamentalism' seems to be used ambiguously here. What is being rejected by fundamentalism? Is it intervention in the interest of fairness, as suggested in the first sentence, or is it intervention in the form of regulation as suggested by talk of food labelling in the penultimate sentence, or perhaps both? Does anyone in the US advocate rejection of both? I don't think anyone in politics in the UK would do so. And what constitutes the 'best results' evidence of which might support such a policy? How is this criterion to be made anything but subjective?

Free market fundamentalism and controlled market fundamentalism strike me as polar positions along an axis of opinion on which we stand. To argue for one or the other is an attempt to move the status quo in one direction or the other, not to establish either pole as policy.

bmiller said...

So you prefer anarchy? Good luck with that!

Guess actually reading the essays are too much work. It might be interesting to have a thoughtful discussion of the arguments for and against limited government, but alas, it won't happen here.

One Brow said...

bmiller,
Guess actually reading the essays are too much work.

Just pointless. They are pretty naive and silly.

It might be interesting to have a thoughtful discussion of the arguments for and against limited government, but alas, it won't happen here.

Certainly not as long as Bastiat is your standard for thoughtful discussion.

One Brow said...

David Brightly,
The term 'free market fundamentalism' seems to be used ambiguously here. What is being rejected by fundamentalism? Is it intervention in the interest of fairness, as suggested in the first sentence, or is it intervention in the form of regulation as suggested by talk of food labelling in the penultimate sentence, or perhaps both?

At the very least, the former implies the latter. There is no fairness if sellers are allowed to lie to you about what you are buying.

David Brightly said...

I think Victor's sense of 'fairness' here is in relation to equality or otherwise of incomes, say, rather than the honesty of individual transactions. Interventions such as income redistribution to ensure the former can exist independently of interventions regarding weights and measures, say, that ensure honest trading.

One Brow said...

David Brightly,

I don't now anyone who thinks equality of incomes is achievable or even desirable (noting that some compensation is grossly unproportionate to value added is not the same as expecting equality of income). Income redistribution merely means that those who most benefit from the rules out society has laid out are the ones offering the most support to the system that favors them.

bmiller said...

Oops!

Veterans for Peace. Where are you? The US is accelerating the Climate Apocalypse by sending billions worth of combustibles to Ukraine guaranteed to pollute and guaranteed to build more to replace those. Rinse and repeat.