How Many Wars Have Unregulated Markets Started?
Posted in : The Nature of Government on by : Michael Maharrey Tags: economics, government, markets
As I was wading through the refuse-strewn social media landscape in the wake of the FCC’s decision to end “net neutrality,” I stumbled upon this comment.
“The only thing I fear more than government is an unregulated market.”
It seems this particular commenter needs to pause and put things into a little bit of perspective. After all, how many wars have unregulated markets started?
More fundamentally, any person who “fears” an unregulated market probably doesn’t understand what a market is.
I’m pretty certain when this individual hears “unregulated market,” he envisions big corporate monopolies screwing over the little guy. He seems oblivious to the fact that the government itself is a big corporate monopoly that also happens to possess guns and claims the sole authority to initiate violence against everybody else. However powerful Walmart might be, it doesn’t do that. Even within this individual’s warped conception of “unregulated market,” I would still fear government more.
He also ignores the fact that corporations count on government for their very existence. Most corporate power flows from cronyism and the legal mechanizations of government at various levels.
But what exactly is an unregulated market? And should we fear it?
Let’s say I want an apple. You have an apple. I offer you a certain amount of money in exchange for your apple. You agree. I give you the cash. You hand me the apple. We’re both happy.
The aggregate of all of these voluntary exchanges makes up the unregulated market.
Not particularly scary, is it?
If a market is made up of voluntary exchanges, why do we need “regulation?” If you give me a bad apple, I won’t buy apples from you anymore. If your price is too high, we won’t agree to a transaction. If you don’t want to give up your apple, you don’t have to. Markets are, broadly speaking, self-regulating. Granted, we need some type of legal system to settle disputes and address cases of actual harm. But that’s not the same as regulation.
There is nothing sinister, or dangerous about voluntary exchanges. They make up the majority of our interactions on a daily basis.
Any person who fears unregulated markets (voluntary exchanges) more than government (an institution that claims a monopoly on violence ) either doesn’t understand markets or is power-hungry and wants to use the force of government to impose their will on the rest of society.
Unregulated markets don’t start wars. Unregulated markets don’t extort money from people. Unregulated markets don’t lock people in cages. Government does all of these things. It seems to me my Facebook friends has some misplaced fear.