As we have worked our way through the Libertarian platform and subsequent topics that involve government, we have discussed many different areas where there are disagreements about whether government should be involved, and if so, at what level. One of the most interesting to me and the most relevant to today’s current events is the idea of a free market. So I figured that it would be a good time for us to talk about how it can work, or how it cannot, depending on your position.
So the Libertarians believe in a free market. They have made that much clear in their platform. I would like to understand what their version of a free market is, so those who are more knowledgeable about their platform can certainly chime in. I am going to try to keep this somewhat brief because I don’t want to lead the conversation too much. I am just interested in having a good discussion around the free market concept.
Here is my definition of a free market as best as I am possible of defining it: In a free market any person is able to give up property rights or offer services to anyone that they choose , or choose not to, for fair compensation as determined by the two parties involved in the transaction. There should be no coercion or force exhibited in any way. None, zero, end of story. If I want to sell my house to BlackFlag for $20, that is my right. If I want to paint houses and you want me to paint yours, we can agree on a price and complete our contract. If I choose to not do business with natives of Venezuela, that is my choice.
Government should have absolutely nothing to do with business. This applies to every aspect of business. To begin with, they don’t have the right to set any pricing. They don’t have the right to force me to buy from any certain group or person, including themselves. They are not entitled to even one cent of the consideration offered for goods or services, which means zero sales tax or any other tax around the transfer of goods or services. Government does not have the right to require me to use whatever form of currency they deem fitting.
Government does not have the right to impose taxes on businesses or to subsequently give preference to certain businesses in the form of “tax breaks”. Government does not have the right to set rules in place that tell companies how to operate, how to create their product, or anything else. In a free market the closest government should come to business is to eat at a local establishment.
Government does have the right to offer services to everyone so long as they gain no advantage and so long as no person is ever required to use the government’s services or purchase the government’s goods. The government has the right to compete in the market in the same way as any other business or person, with no competitive advantage afforded them because they are government. If the government can make a better television for cheaper, then they will get the business, if not, someone else will.
Government should not be filling a role where they are the bailout option for businesses. If a business cannot survive on its own merit, then it fails. The economy is a result of the free market, and thus if Americans don’t run their businesses right, we will see a recession or even possibly a depression. This is a natural occurrence in a market and is a sign of the market righting itself after moving out of bounds. Government stays out of everything and lets the market do its own natural corrections.
Those are some thoughts on what it means to have a truly free market. Government has nothing to do with it. This does not, in my eyes eliminate taxes altogether. Some sort of tax should be levied in order to pay for the things that the government provides. This means, for example, that I don’t know how someone other than a nationalized agency could create our road systems and pay for them. I know we have shot a few ideas out there in the past, but indulge me and let’s discuss them again.
Now a couple of things I ask before we start down this road. First, I know some of you feel like government is inherently evil. You have made that quite clear. But this is not a discussion of that. If your answer is that a free market needs to exist because government is evil or all the other arguments along that road, just save it for some other forum. I am not interested in arguing the pros and cons of government with those of you who won’t change their mind anyway.
Second, this is about discussing the mechanical operations and feasibility of a truly free market. Can it work? Is it possible for us to ever get there? Should we even if it is possible? Is your definition of a free market different from what I outlined above? I am open to all comments and ideas. I have my thoughts and will share them as we go. I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with everything in my definition above, that is merely what I see as realities in a truly free market.
Finally I know that some people speak only in absolutes and are not willing to even discuss rationally the options. Remember the realities of the world we are operating in. We are talking about America, so remember that the rest of the world is assumed to continue to operating as they do today. Do we need government to protect us from businesses that have government support from their home governments, like the Japanese auto makers for example.
So let’s together better define a truly free market. And let’s discuss whether or not a truly free market is something that we should be striving for. If so, which definition is optimal and why?