Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Why free markets are neither

We'll start with the easy one...the idea of there being such things as “markets.” There are not, nor have there ever been any such things known as “markets” – there are people, period. A person is not a market, nor is a gaggle, nor a murder, nor a herd of people a market. There is a simple proof of this...if a “market” was a real thing, it would have, in the very least, observable properties (like people do), it does not. Subject it to this simple test; ask yourself if you can do any or all of the following to something called, a “market”: See it? Touch it? Taste it? Smell it? Hear it? If you think you can do any one or all of these things to something called a “market” you either need medication or you are an idiot – your choice.

So, first such thing as markets. If there are no such thing as markets, it is not possible
for them to be subject to any kind of condition known as “free,” or any other condition for that matter (mixed, planned, etc.).

Second one...”free.” If we have determined that a “market” cannot be free because, first and foremost it does not exist, then it cannot be “free” either. Something that has no existence...has no existence and cannot be subjected to any kind of condition (re-read the first two paragraphs if you are having trouble with this notion of something that does not exist being subject to any set of conditions.) People, however are another story.

People do have properties and as such, are subject to various conditions, so presumably, they could be subject to a condition known as “free.” They are not free, however, nor will they ever be. It makes no matter where they live, where they have been raised, nor who has done the raising. Why? Because anyone who has been raised with, or by, other people has had (and continues to have) their behavior shaped by those other people. Put simply, they have been trained. Specifically, they have been trained to respond to the environmental conditions that surround them. Any being that can be or is, trained, is by definition not free. A person who has not been trained by other people is known as a “feral” person and the evidence for the existence of such a person is sufficiently, if not completely, lacking. Feral people (presuming that they do, or have ever existed) have been trained too, just not be other people. Feral people have been trained by their physical or non-human environment. The simple fact is that any organism, any animal, cannot and does not survive without training. Since animals are only capable of responding to their environment, they are not free; the environment sets the standards, the animal responds.

Simple test again...try washing your dishes without any clothes on, with no one else in your house. Try NOT eating your favorite food...ever. Try being honest with your boss. Try NOT working to earn money to by food, to pay bills, to pay a mortgage, to pay for your cell phone. Try any and/or all of these and you will discover, quickly that you are not free. You CANNOT be free; in fact it is because of your lack of freedom that you CAN read, think, tell yourself that this is complete bullshit and the author is a communistic-fascist (no, I am NOT Dick Cheney), feed yourself, etc.

And if anyone thinks that markets are free (regardless of any of the above), bankers, CEO's, and world leaders sincerely thank you for this belief as it fills their coffers on a daily basis. In fact, it is these folks who love it when those of us who are not in privileged positions like they are talk about how much we want free markets.

So, no free. Just people, just training, just exploitation of that training.


GregMerchantLE said...

John, I really liked this post. It really seems true to me. Reva commented this morning how the whole Toyota mechanical problem issue seemed to have just vanished. A few weeks after it was front and center on every newscast it's now nothing. It made me think, "oh my goodness! I'm being told what to think about and what to ignore!". Like you said, we are constantly being shaped. Greg

johneglass said...

Hey, Greg...thanks, glad you liked the post. Yeah, also notice how the BP gusher is not front and center like it used to be...God only knows what kind of real damage we are looking at. Of course BP will never be held accountable; now, if this was some small muckety-muck like a normal person, people would be all over it (or him or her). I am not opposed to the notion of there being REAL free markets, i.e., without any manipulation by the big dogs, but I honestly don't think that is possible...short of some kind of major catastrophe that sends us all back to 19th century lifestyles.

GregMerchantLE said...

I've often thought that free market is when there are five plumbers in town and one doesn't do very good work and goes out of business so now you have the four best plumbers left. So different from huge corporations who survive primarily because of financial strength.

I wonder what BP is really thinking. They very well might be sitting in the board room saying, "if we just tow the line until the next disaster comes around we can then relax a little and start denying claims from these little businesses or at least underpay the claims". How can they really fairly value the business of a fisherman that has done that all his life and now can't do it there any more because of their carelessness?

johneglass said...

IMO, you are dead on, Greg. I think markets probably do work well on a local scale like your example. That makes sense and does seem to be the best way to get the best service at a competitive rate. Of course, this is precisely what we DON'T see on a corporate level -- too much at stake to be the guy who goes out of business because he is no good at what he does.

I find it REALLY hard to believe that this is the best that BP can do...give me a break. They had NO plans for failure other than what they have tried and failed at already? Right.

Now, if your example was really what was happening, then BP would to out of business because of their massive incompetence, but we KNOW that ain't gonna happen, so there has to be something else going on.

A really sad state of affairs for people worldwide. This spill is going to have not just local, but global impact.