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Libertarianism, Wiccans and the freeish market
While I'm rather a fan of capitalism, I am very much not a fan of totally unregulated capitalism. A lot of the arguments I see in favor of TUC seem to be based on assumptions that no longer apply in the real world. Case in point:

a) If a business is providing a bad service or overpricing or treating its employees badly, the market will punish them.

This might work in a 'mom and pop' type business environment with virtually all businesses being owned by individuals or families or small groups. It seems to demonstrably go off the rails when you consider corporations such as Wal-Mart or Apple or various other large companies. For example, Wal-Mart has been documented as coming into an area and undercutting the prices of all the local businesses, thereby driving them out of business such that Wal-mart becomes the only local supplier of pretty much all domestic goods and the only employer. At which point it raises prices and can treat its employees pretty much any way it wants (and often does).

As I understand free-market theory, 'the consumer' will punish Wal-mart for this behavior in some fashion - but in practice this doesn't seem to happen in any significant fashion. While a few people (in areas that do offer a choice of multiple retailers) may refuse to shop there (I'm one of them), most only look at the low prices and 'great deals' and either don't think about the backstory at all or feel a temporary twinge about it and then go right back to shopping. Then of course there are those people (such as Wal-mart employees) who are paid so little that they have no choice but to buy from the cheapest or only local supplier (meaning Wal-mart in many cases) regardless of what they may think about the situation.

Unless we presume some sort of fairly massive program of universal consumer consciousness raising/social engineering such that a corporation will consistently pay a significant negative cost all over for its actions in one place - the theory of 'the market' punishing these sorts of bad actors doesn't seem to work.

b) Unregulated free markets will always produce the best products and services - I would point to the publications of the past, specifically the so-called 'muckrakers' who, around the turn of the century, wrote numerous exposes about the awful conditions in such places as meatpacking plants (Upton Sinclairs The Jungle being the prime example), including spoiled meat covered up with chemicals and rats crawling on the meat and leaving excrement behind. At the time the industry was very lightly regulated - if it was regulated at all. Why should we not take this as an example of how an unregulated industry is more likely to operate? Particularly when the modern food industry can ship to locations that are nowhere near them.

On a somewhat different note:

a) A single individual being able to bring even the biggest and most beneficial project to a halt due to lack of eminent domain laws or the like - Doesn't it seem more likely that in this situation the individual in question would end up having an 'accident' that either suddenly convinced them to move or killed them, making the problem go away? Back in the good old 'unregulated' days before labor unions, there were documented instances of companies hiring people to beat up people trying to unionize or otherwise get better labor conditions. So there is precedent for people behaving in this fashion. How would an unregulated free market (or Libertarian system) prevent this sort of thing?

b) I made mention on another thread about people seeing government as a cookie jar. The response seemed to immediately equate that behavior with welfare - actually I was talking about 'good hard working Americans', specifically the people in my neck of the woods. In this area the roads have been in bad shape for years and for years people have been trying to come up with a way to improve them. A common theme throughout this whole issue has been 'good hardworking Americans', many of whom are self-avowed free-market conservatives who hate government regulation - suggesting that local taxes should not be raised to pay for local roads and that instead Federal funds should be used to pay for it. So apparently they are fine with taxpayer dollars being spent by the government - as long as it benefits them.

c) Natural Monopolies - earlier I mentioned these and someone claimed these don't exist - Based on my college political economics class (my minor is political science), I beg to differ. Let us consider the example of roads:

Say a company builds a set of roads and charges tolls to use them. Building the roads required a massive initial expenditure and the first company pretty much took most of the best routes between many locations (perhaps even the only viable route in some cases). Now the company starts charging very expensive tolls.

In order for 'the market' to address this it would seem to require another massive company to come in and expend massive resources in order to build an entire new set of roads paralleling the existing roads so they can then charge lower tolls to compete with the first company. Except what are the odds that this will happen and in particular how are they to address those sections of road where no other viable route exists?

I suppose the other option is for everyone to move so they don't use those roads but it seems a bit extreme when I have to move my entire household just to get away from a toll. Assuming I can get away from them of course without also switching jobs and schools and much else.

Similar examples can be found when considering cable systems or power companies and power lines.

Why should I believe all this inconvenience is worth the supposed 'freedom' of letting big corporations do whatever they want?



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RE: Libertarnism, Wiccans and the freeish market - by Drashner1 - 07-09-2014, 11:08 AM

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