"Do you support the free market?"

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Before I begin, I'd like to explain my previous absence from the forums. My Grandmother died last Saturday, and in between the stresses of preparing for college, getting my driver's license, and preparing for the funeral, I've been dealing with a lot of head aches.

With that out of the way, I was recently asked by someone whether I supported the "Free Market". Given the stress I've been under, I was pretty blunt when I said "I'd rather flee the country than support the Free Market". Of course, the usual insults were traded, I was called a Communist-Socialist-Marxist-Fascist and had to listen to an earful of Ayn Rand (thank God I'm almost done reading Atlas Shrugged) before they finally left.

Anyways, after they left, I began to think back to my reasons over not supporting the Free Market... And I began to wonder why anyone would support it in the first place. In my mind, the words "Free Market" has always conjured up images of mass pollution, violations of labor laws, wage slavery and worker exploitation. It wasn't that hard for me to realize why I hated the "Free Market" when it gave us such lovely things as "Dog Kennels for homeless people" (Where the homeless are put in the kennels) and "Anti-Unionist Mafias", combine that with the fact that I personally believe that my family has been screwed more times by Corporations and companies than the government (in fact, every time we have had to deal with the government, it was usually quite swift and efficient) and I realize that from birth, I've pretty much been nurtured with a passionate hatred of business (the fact that reading Ayn Rand, perhaps the biggest advocate of a free market, fills me with anger and disgust is rather telling) while the government's been a pretty neutral if not outright positive force for my family.

Since I'm a big believer in "Nurture over Nature" this got me to wonder something: what causes people to support the Free Market? I mean, I don't even understand why some people support it. The most I can gleam from Ayn Rand, is that she thought it was some "great equalizer" where people would make equal trades "man to man" without government interference, and I still have trouble understanding how that would work out given the inherently destructive nature of business.

So, if you support the free market, all I have to ask is: why? I honestly want to know why some people support this, and what they feel about those people who end up homeless or dying from disease as a result of rampant competition.

Firstly, noone is in favour of an absolutely free market. In a completely free market, people would pump the atmosphere full of poison so as to make money selling HazMat suits. There are, however, benefits to freer markets as opposed to more controlled ones.
Take labour laws; If the minimum wage was raised, widget companies would need to pay unskilled labourers more, which would mean they would have to raise their prices. If they had to raise their prices, then imported widgets would be cheaper and noone would buy locally produced widgets. Which would mean that the local companies would go bankrupt and widget makers would lose their jobs. To counteract this, countries with minimum wage laws have to put tariffs on importing products made by unskilled labour, such as widgets. This means that local widget factories can stay in business, because the competitors have to pay import taxes, but in fact all it does is make all widgets more expensive, raising the cost of living. The problem then, is that other countries wont import goods from your widget factories, because the cost of tariffs plus the cost of minimum wage laws makes them far more expensive.
In order to prevent this, countries with more controlled economies protect important industries by giving them taxpayer money, such that they can compete overseas with overseas manufacturers, effectively paying them the cost of paying their workers more, so that they can still sell widgets cheap enough for other countries citizens to consider buying imported widgets. This requires countries to raise taxes, which effectively means that wealthy people have to pay the government to pay wealthy people to pay their workers more. Effectively, labour laws are a roundabout, bureaucratic and confusing form of social security, in which the money is given to people with jobs that do not pay well, which, while being a good idea, is not a very efficient way of doing it.

In reality, there is no such thing called "the free market" because no matter where you go, there are rules to trading. The whole notion is derived from a economic Libertarian point of view that markets will naturally balance themselves over time, but any influence within the system will hinder that balance. Personally, I don't believe in an anarchic free market as what is normally the point of view of someone who uses such loaded language (i.e. those generally trying to start a fight or push an ideological point of view).

Within my own personal viewpoint I am for a free and regulated market, something that has clear boundaries and guidelines but still allows the freewill of those participating within the market to control their transactions and only turn to authority for cases of fraud, including misrepresentation and varying degrees of fraud. But I also think the penalties for choosing to not adhere to those rules could lead to economic implosion as a penalty, mostly to control entities like banks and those that exploit money to make money while not doing actually contributing to the economy. In my own perception, the notion of a truly free market brings upon the same images you perceived and of a oligarchic society that uses exploitation as it's foundation, kind of like how globalisation has been working right now. Through both political and economic theories I've come to a notion that there actually has to be a balance of all parts for any type of political, economic, or socioeconomic system or the system kills it's self as it becomes unbalanced.

Personally, most people that use that ask questions like "Do you support a free market" don't have a firm grasp on what it actually means and are only using it as a method to try and validate their political opinion/ideology/belief. I'm of the notion that most academic economists don't honestly think the free market is a solution to anything.

mathsisfun:
Firstly, noone is in favour of an absolutely free market. In a completely free market, people would pump the atmosphere full of poison so as to make money selling HazMat suits. There are, however, benefits to freer markets as opposed to more controlled ones.
Take labour laws; If the minimum wage was raised, widget companies would need to pay unskilled labourers more, which would mean they would have to raise their prices. If they had to raise their prices, then imported widgets would be cheaper and noone would buy locally produced widgets. Which would mean that the local companies would go bankrupt and widget makers would lose their jobs. To counteract this, countries with minimum wage laws have to put tariffs on importing products made by unskilled labour, such as widgets. This means that local widget factories can stay in business, because the competitors have to pay import taxes, but in fact all it does is make all widgets more expensive, raising the cost of living. The problem then, is that other countries wont import goods from your widget factories, because the cost of tariffs plus the cost of minimum wage laws makes them far more expensive.
In order to prevent this, countries with more controlled economies protect important industries by giving them taxpayer money, such that they can compete overseas with overseas manufacturers, effectively paying them the cost of paying their workers more, so that they can still sell widgets cheap enough for other countries citizens to consider buying imported widgets. This requires countries to raise taxes, which effectively means that wealthy people have to pay the government to pay wealthy people to pay their workers more. Effectively, labour laws are a roundabout, bureaucratic and confusing form of social security, in which the money is given to people with jobs that do not pay well, which, while being a good idea, is not a very efficient way of doing it.

Lots of this, but I disagree on the outcomes as globalisation is what you're describing, because not all places have the same standard of living. Really, the standard of living is what is the attempt at being controlled.

What would you want OP? No free market at all, or just more top down control than what we have? And to what degree? We don't have child labor laws anymore so what would you change in our current society and how?

Witty Name Here:
In my mind, the words "Free Market" has always conjured up images of mass pollution, violations of labor laws, wage slavery and worker exploitation.

As though these things don't happen under a regulated market. Capitalism is inherently exploitative. Just because someone is being paid a reasonable living wage doesn't mean they're not being exploited.

As opposed to what? Planned Economy? Yes, I support the Free Market, and I'm a Social Democrat. We NEED a Free Market. It just needs to be state-influenced. Planned Economy is a god-damn joke, but so is economic Liberalism. The idea that if the Invisible Hand were left to govern it would be better for everyone is just as laughable as Nozicks Minimal-State-Theory. I don't really know what else to say.

mathsisfun:
Firstly, noone is in favour of an absolutely free market. In a completely free market, people would pump the atmosphere full of poison so as to make money selling HazMat suits. There are, however, benefits to freer markets as opposed to more controlled ones.
Take labour laws; If the minimum wage was raised, widget companies would need to pay unskilled labourers more, which would mean they would have to raise their prices. If they had to raise their prices, then imported widgets would be cheaper and noone would buy locally produced widgets. Which would mean that the local companies would go bankrupt and widget makers would lose their jobs. To counteract this, countries with minimum wage laws have to put tariffs on importing products made by unskilled labour, such as widgets. This means that local widget factories can stay in business, because the competitors have to pay import taxes, but in fact all it does is make all widgets more expensive, raising the cost of living. The problem then, is that other countries wont import goods from your widget factories, because the cost of tariffs plus the cost of minimum wage laws makes them far more expensive.
In order to prevent this, countries with more controlled economies protect important industries by giving them taxpayer money, such that they can compete overseas with overseas manufacturers, effectively paying them the cost of paying their workers more, so that they can still sell widgets cheap enough for other countries citizens to consider buying imported widgets. This requires countries to raise taxes, which effectively means that wealthy people have to pay the government to pay wealthy people to pay their workers more. Effectively, labour laws are a roundabout, bureaucratic and confusing form of social security, in which the money is given to people with jobs that do not pay well, which, while being a good idea, is not a very efficient way of doing it.

Most western countries DO have labour-law, and it seems preferable to the alternative (as otherwise, it would have been removed by now).

manic_depressive13:

Witty Name Here:
In my mind, the words "Free Market" has always conjured up images of mass pollution, violations of labor laws, wage slavery and worker exploitation.

As though these things don't happen under a regulated market. Capitalism is inherently exploitative. Just because someone is being paid a reasonable living wage doesn't mean they're not being exploited.

People are going to be 'exploited' in every single market except for the ideal Communist one or the pre-capitalistic, pre-guildsystem Feudal-trade were everyone owned their own business (though they were now exploited by Feudalism). Communism is a dream and Feudalism is horror.

Realitycrash:
People are going to be 'exploited' in every single market except for the ideal Communist one or the pre-capitalistic, pre-guildsystem Feudal-trade were everyone owned their own business (though they were now exploited by Feudalism). Communism is a dream and Feudalism is horror.

Well! What can I say, you've convinced me with your incontrovertible evidence that exploitation is inevitable no matter what. Cheers.

manic_depressive13:

Realitycrash:
People are going to be 'exploited' in every single market except for the ideal Communist one or the pre-capitalistic, pre-guildsystem Feudal-trade were everyone owned their own business (though they were now exploited by Feudalism). Communism is a dream and Feudalism is horror.

Well! What can I say, you've convinced me with your incontrovertible evidence that exploitation is inevitable no matter what. Cheers.

Oh stop it.
Yes, Exploitation IS inevitable, if we use such loose conceptions of exploitation as 'not being as fully rewarded for one's work as one could be'. Hell, the Libertarians have been going on about how taxation is exploitation forever.
What we seek to do is minimize exploitation and maximize public good. Is the current Capitalistic System flawed? Yes. Do we have any better alternatives? No. Rather remodel than revolution.

The free market is like small government, one of those things some people like to champion on the tacit understanding that it applies to A, B and C, but stays the hell away from X, Y and Z.

No, at least not in investment banking. In capitalism, companies enjoy or suffer the consequences of their decisions and there's excess capacity to absorb the loss of a company failing. Look what happened when Lehman Brothers collapsed. The banks are so over-leveraged and interdependent, the money markets froze and the financial system was in danger of crashing, including retail banks and pension funds. And remember the banks have been lobbying for light regulation for over a generation so they could build a system like this.

A free market that, if free market forces were allowed to operate, would crash that market and wreck the rest of the economy with it.

Also consider the size of the derivatives market compared to the world's wealth. Or where profit comes from in high frequency trading. Or that the lynchpin of trust behind the subprime MBS debacle, the rating agencies, are still going.

Even if you're not familiar with the subject written above, consider the Dot Com Bubble. Lots of investors showing they aren't rational agents working in their self-interest and are prone to idiotic, bubble euphoria. Explain that in the Randian model.

Realitycrash:
Oh stop it.
Yes, Exploitation IS inevitable, if we use such loose conceptions of exploitation as 'not being as fully rewarded for one's work as one could be'. Hell, the Libertarians have been going on about how taxation is exploitation forever.
What we seek to do is minimize exploitation and maximize public good. Is the current Capitalistic System flawed? Yes. Do we have any better alternatives? No. Rather remodel than revolution.

Which just goes to show the defeatist, impotent attitude of the Social Democrats. Remodel you say, as if the capitalists are just going to sit there and let you legislate their power away. Even when victories are won by the workers after desperate struggle, how long until a war or crisis comes along to give the government an excuse to strip it all away? I remember five years ago people were calling Greece "socialist", today people are dying in the streets.

Edit: Oh yeah, and that's not a 'loose conception'. Not getting paid for the full value of your labour is the definition of exploitation.

I don't "support" the free market, really. It's just something that's there. In the short term, it's something that's there out of necessity. In the long-term, hopefully not. We'll see.

Even as a libertarian I'm not in favor of a Laissez-faire style economic system. I suppose people being able to choose what they want to buy, certainly, and I support people being able to choose what they want to try to sell. That's about it.

If a person has earned their money through non-criminal means then that money is theres. Only they control that money. They can choose to invest that money in whatever they feel like they should invest it in.

To me this is more of the free market then letting businesses tear down forest for space or something of that nature. You have to have some regulations for the environment, for the public good, and for the economic good of the larger whole. It's the nature of those regulations, what should be and shouldn't be regulated, how far some go, how some came to being, that's what I would rather argue against then the free market strawman.

One of the largest priority of any government should be to ensure that the nation as a whole is not going bankrupt, and that means making sure individuals are not going bankrupt. 'E pluribus unum' isn't just a saying, it's a fact. The total sum of a nations wealth is in the wealth of its people; the total sum of its intelligence is in the education of its people, etc etc.

Sometimes, regulations are a good way to make sure people can earn more money; other times, you need to deregulate in order to do so. While you cannot please 100% of the people, getting as many into a comfortable spot where they have control over their own finances is probably the goal to aim for.

The idea of 'One way, always' in any branch of politics is killing my nation that I love. Being unbending just means that they are making sure they ignore the ways that might work because they are 'ideologically incorrect'.

manic_depressive13:

Realitycrash:
Oh stop it.
Yes, Exploitation IS inevitable, if we use such loose conceptions of exploitation as 'not being as fully rewarded for one's work as one could be'. Hell, the Libertarians have been going on about how taxation is exploitation forever.
What we seek to do is minimize exploitation and maximize public good. Is the current Capitalistic System flawed? Yes. Do we have any better alternatives? No. Rather remodel than revolution.

Which just goes to show the defeatist, impotent attitude of the Social Democrats. Remodel you say, as if the capitalists are just going to sit there and let you legislate their power away. Even when victories are won by the workers after desperate struggle, how long until a war or crisis comes along to give the government an excuse to strip it all away? I remember five years ago people were calling Greece "socialist", today people are dying in the streets.

Edit: Oh yeah, and that's not a 'loose conception'. Not getting paid for the full value of your labour is the definition of exploitation.

Uh, I AM Capitalist? There isn't really an option. Any market which allows private enterprises and speculation with wealth will be Capitalist in some fashion, and the other option, Planned Economy, is a massive, hilarious failure. Now, I'd personally like this NOT to be the case, but you can't argue with facts.
So yes, the Capitalists of Scandinavia HAVE been legislated into a corner. And it has worked. Currently, it's slipping up, though, partly due to globalization, and due to the Conservative governments enjoying their time in the spotlight.
Remodeling is the only option we have. Revolution isn't going to lead us anywhere, not until we have a Star Trek-like epiphany and the entire human race changes its ways.

manic_depressive13:
I remember five years ago people were calling Greece "socialist", today people are dying in the streets.

I don't remember that. Probably because Greece wasn't socialist. And I'm pretty sure that it's not in for a plague outbreak anytime soon, either.

Bentusi16:

Sometimes, regulations are a good way to make sure people can earn more money; other times, you need to deregulate in order to do so. While you cannot please 100% of the people, getting as many into a comfortable spot where they have control over their own finances is probably the goal to aim for.

Probably, but it's not what the big businesses want. Those would very much prefer to have people bound to them. Monsanto being currently on the chopping block of cranky commoners, for example.

Realitycrash:
Uh, I AM Capitalist?

Is that a question or a statement? I honestly can't tell.

What ways does the human race have to change?

Vegosiux:
I don't remember that. Probably because Greece wasn't socialist. And I'm pretty sure that it's not in for a plague outbreak anytime soon, either.

Yeah obviously. I'm referring to those people who use "socialist" to mean a welfare state, and point to European countries like Switzerland or Finland as the perfect blend between freedom and regulation. If you seriously have never previously encountered people calling Europe socialist consider yourself lucky. Also welcome, you must be new to R&P.

mathsisfun:

Take labour laws; If the minimum wage was raised, widget companies would need to pay unskilled labourers more, which would mean they would have to raise their prices. If they had to raise their prices, then imported widgets would be cheaper and noone would buy locally produced widgets. Which would mean that the local companies would go bankrupt and widget makers would lose their jobs. To counteract this, countries with minimum wage laws have to put tariffs on importing products made by unskilled labour, such as widgets. This means that local widget factories can stay in business, because the competitors have to pay import taxes, but in fact all it does is make all widgets more expensive, raising the cost of living. The problem then, is that other countries wont import goods from your widget factories, because the cost of tariffs plus the cost of minimum wage laws makes them far more expensive.

Sorry to somewhat derail the topic but I want to comment on this particular line of argument.

I've heard this approximate argument against raising minimum wage a fair number of times before, and I understand how it works in theory. However, it's reminiscent of the very arguments used against introducing minimum wage a few decades ago that turned out to be false. The benefits of raising minimum wage can outweigh the costs. I think it's important to keep that in mind.

manic_depressive13:

Yeah obviously. I'm referring to those people who use "socialist" to mean a welfare state, and point to European countries like Switzerland or Finland as the perfect blend between freedom and regulation. If you seriously have never previously encountered people calling Europe socialist consider yourself lucky. Also welcome, you must be new to R&P.

EU/Europe aren't these homogenous entities. And I honestly don't recall Greece being set as an example of a social state. No, not even five years ago.

Witty Name Here:
In my mind, the words "Free Market" has always conjured up images of mass pollution, violations of labor laws, wage slavery and worker exploitation.

How on earth are violations of the law a criticism of the free market? If those violations are happening in a free market then that means the free market opposes those actions. People violate laws in EVERY economic system, because none of them make it physically impossible to do so.

It wasn't that hard for me to realize why I hated the "Free Market" when it gave us such lovely things as "Dog Kennels for homeless people" (Where the homeless are put in the kennels) and "Anti-Unionist Mafias", combine that with the fact that I personally believe that my family has been screwed more times by Corporations and companies than the government (in fact, every time we have had to deal with the government, it was usually quite swift and efficient) and I realize that from birth, I've pretty much been nurtured with a passionate hatred of business (the fact that reading Ayn Rand, perhaps the biggest advocate of a free market, fills me with anger and disgust is rather telling) while the government's been a pretty neutral if not outright positive force for my family.

How often do you deal with the government compared to dealing with companies? I'm willing to bet you interact with companies FAR more often. This means they have many more opportunities to screw you over, simply because you interact with them more.

I'm also betting there's a lot of confirmation bias going on here. Sure, you've been screwed over at times by companies, but how many times have you NOT been screwed over by them? How many times have you gone into a store, made a transaction, and then left without any issue? What percentage of your interactions with companies actually fall into the "getting screwed" category?

Additionally, how are you defining "screwed over", and are you applying that definition consistently to both government and companies?

The most I can gleam from Ayn Rand, is that she thought it was some "great equalizer" where people would make equal trades "man to man" without government interference, and I still have trouble understanding how that would work out given the inherently destructive nature of business.

If you have to "glean" why Rand supports the Free Market then you aren't reading the right books, because she flat-out states why she supports it. The summary is that it's the only economic system which fits her moral views of individual rights.

Vegosiux:
EU/Europe aren't these homogenous entities. And I honestly don't recall Greece being set as an example of a social state. No, not even five years ago.

I know that. I was merely relaying arguments that have been made to me.

The fact is Greece had a reasonably strong welfare state and now it has austerity. It's an example of how rights and benefits given with one hand during times of peace under regulated capitalism are snatched away by the other in times of crisis. Whether you have personally heard people using Greece as an example of a social state isn't something I can change. I personally had, and frankly it's irrelevant to my ultimate argument. I don't know why you latched on to this one very miniscule and unverifiable point.

manic_depressive13:

The fact is Greece had a reasonably strong welfare state and now it has austerity. It's an example of how rights and benefits given with one hand during times of peace under regulated capitalism are snatched away by the other in times of crisis. Whether you have personally heard people using Greece as an example of a social state isn't something I can change. I personally had, and frankly it's irrelevant to my ultimate argument. I don't know why you latched on to this one very miniscule and unverifiable point.

Well, from within EU, I get the vibe that the mediterranean states (Spain, Italy, Greece, etc.) are considered more "easy-going and generally not giving a fuck until shit hits the fan" than "the state actively supporting the welfare programs". Even to the point of the states not particularly caring when the people abuse the system.

The Nordic countries especially get pushed forward as examples of a working social state because they still make sure that it's not given for granted and the people generally tend to appreciate that and make it work by not taking advantage of it. Now, with the recent commotion in Sweden, I wonder which way that will turn, really.

manic_depressive13:

Realitycrash:
Uh, I AM Capitalist?

Is that a question or a statement? I honestly can't tell.

What ways does the human race have to change?

Vegosiux:
I don't remember that. Probably because Greece wasn't socialist. And I'm pretty sure that it's not in for a plague outbreak anytime soon, either.

Yeah obviously. I'm referring to those people who use "socialist" to mean a welfare state, and point to European countries like Switzerland or Finland as the perfect blend between freedom and regulation. If you seriously have never previously encountered people calling Europe socialist consider yourself lucky. Also welcome, you must be new to R&P.

It is a statement. In fact, every Social Democrat in my nation (Sweden) is a Capitalist.
The human race must change in order for Communism to work properly. Corruption killed it. Some omniscience wouldn't hurt either, since a huge problem with Planned Economy is it's inefficient in predict what goods will be needed.
I really don't mind the idea, but it just isn't feasible with the world right now. Violent revolutions have rarely lead to direct improvements in either social or economical policies. I support the boring, slow way: Regulate the economy, improve welfare, improve conditions and overall education for the lower and middle class, and bring about as close to a non-capitalistic system as we can get through steady improvement for all.
And it will take time.

Vegosiux:

manic_depressive13:

The fact is Greece had a reasonably strong welfare state and now it has austerity. It's an example of how rights and benefits given with one hand during times of peace under regulated capitalism are snatched away by the other in times of crisis. Whether you have personally heard people using Greece as an example of a social state isn't something I can change. I personally had, and frankly it's irrelevant to my ultimate argument. I don't know why you latched on to this one very miniscule and unverifiable point.

Well, from within EU, I get the vibe that the mediterranean states (Spain, Italy, Greece, etc.) are considered more "easy-going and generally not giving a fuck until shit hits the fan" than "the state actively supporting the welfare programs". Even to the point of the states not particularly caring when the people abuse the system.

The Nordic countries especially get pushed forward as examples of a working social state because they still make sure that it's not given for granted and the people generally tend to appreciate that and make it work by not taking advantage of it. Now, with the recent commotion in Sweden, I wonder which way that will turn, really.

The commotion is about integration, not with the welfare state itself. The likely outcome will be calls for harsher immigration-laws. The social policies themselves won't change because of this. We will still have free education (no tuition for Colleges, very favorable student-loans for up to six years of studies), free healthcare, favorable safety-nets, overall low crimerate, etc.

Realitycrash:

The commotion is about integration, not with the welfare state itself. The likely outcome will be calls for harsher immigration-laws. The social policies themselves won't change because of this. We will still have free education (no tuition for Colleges, very favorable student-loans for up to six years of studies), free healthcare, favorable safety-nets, overall low crimerate, etc.

Still hullnuts, since Sweden is one of the countries I have my eye on as a potential new home in the mid-term future. But I suppose being a EU citizen already should make that slightly less of a problem for me...(and I believe the Swedish social culture is closer to my personal preferences than the social culture of my home country, and that's saying something I suppose)

Time will tell.

Vegosiux:

Realitycrash:

The commotion is about integration, not with the welfare state itself. The likely outcome will be calls for harsher immigration-laws. The social policies themselves won't change because of this. We will still have free education (no tuition for Colleges, very favorable student-loans for up to six years of studies), free healthcare, favorable safety-nets, overall low crimerate, etc.

Still hullnuts, since Sweden is one of the countries I have my eye on as a potential new home in the mid-term future. But I suppose being a EU citizen already should make that slightly less of a problem for me...(and I believe the Swedish social culture is closer to my personal preferences than the social culture of my home country, and that's saying something I suppose)

Time will tell.

not even 'slightly-less' but 'a whole lot less'. You're a..Geologist, right? Or am I thinking of someone else? Anyone with a degree and fluent in English tend to be rather welcome and have an easy time finding a job.
On a related note, I'm using the EU-citizen route to get a sweet student-exchange scholarship to Amsterdam University.

Because it is the most effective method of maintaining and building freedom and prosperity for all people.

OP- None of the problems you mentioned are due to the market. Unions can be a free market force. After all, labor is an element of the market and forming groups to deal with labor issues is a market issue. In fact, Ayn Rand was pro-union (as am I). She was against "big-union". That is, she did not like unions that excluded unskilled workers, beat people up, and generally acted as poorly as the people they were supposedly against. Your issue is with government interference in the market. Another example is those corporations you do not like. Corporations are legal entities. They are set up by the government not by the market. In a completely free market corporations (like we have now) do not exist. And I can go on.

I'm for free markets, but I would be quite willing to argue that freedom often means state intervention to protect the rights of the people and to prevent domination of the markets. I would also argue that it should obviously be illegal to poison the atmosphere and kill people with toxins, because that would be breaking a wide variety of laws and quite obviously violates the harm principle. That being said, I am much more irritated by corporate welfare and the like than varying regulations, as long as those regulations are not effectively corporate welfare.

Witty Name Here:
So, if you support the free market, all I have to ask is: why? I honestly want to know why some people support this, and what they feel about those people who end up homeless or dying from disease as a result of rampant competition.

All said, it does not appear that you understand fundamental free market principles. You have a very radical, very cynical view of a broad but simple philosophy that is consistent with everyday life. There's as much logic in your distrust and extreme portrayal of a free market as there would be in a long rant against government. I think most see that the ideal rests somewhere in the middle.

I support a strong free market. Why? Because it demands a smaller, smart government. I believe it's far easier and simpler for people to manage that rather than have an enormous bureaucracy reigning alongside an enormous economy. It's a freaking mess of incompetency, corruption and accountability.

But it also means a heavy-handed approach to dealing with an issue. It's slow to move and its weight will crush anything under it, especially the little guys. I've heard accounts of successful retailers that say, if starting in today's world, their business would not get off the ground.

Should government pack up and let the market handle itself? Absolutely not.
Should it take over the market and run the economy? Hell no.

The cornerstone, in my view, is better government, but bigger is not better.

there have been a few attempts to push that direction pretty far but the end result is that you need a military dictatorship in charge otherwise people at the bottom of society end up rebelling damn fast, chile springs to mind as an example

BrassButtons:

How on earth are violations of the law a criticism of the free market? If those violations are happening in a free market then that means the free market opposes those actions. People violate laws in EVERY economic system, because none of them make it physically impossible to do so.

Because limited government power/ability to regulate just establishes that the government should "mind it's own business" and, in a sense, turn a blind eye towards all actions of the "Free Market" so long as people aren't being killed en masse.

I'm also betting there's a lot of confirmation bias going on here. Sure, you've been screwed over at times by companies, but how many times have you NOT been screwed over by them? How many times have you gone into a store, made a transaction, and then left without any issue? What percentage of your interactions with companies actually fall into the "getting screwed" category?

Additionally, how are you defining "screwed over", and are you applying that definition consistently to both government and companies?

Can't list a percentage, however I can list a few notable events:

1.) The time my mother was getting treatment for some serious back issues as a result of work (both my mother and father work in retail) our insurance company essentially threatened her with a private investigation into whether she was "really" injured (I saw her, she had enough pain getting out of bed in the morning, her injury was undeniably real) or just "mooching" off the system.

2.) During a health scare, my father went to a private clinic... The Doctor told him his blood work was "irregular" and essentially was scaring him into thinking he had a very rare, untreatable kind of Cancer. He sent my father off to get tests (of which we later found out he could have been making money from) at another clinic, my father spent weeks on end, paying for more blood work only for them to essentially say "it's nothing".

3.) Every other month, for at least a year, we noticed occasional "discrepancies" in our debt (say, an extra hundred added to it here and there) towards our bank, it got so bad we eventually had to leave the bank and join a Credit Union.

4.) The current company in which my father works at, is going through a process of promoting a younger, inexperienced group of people to the rank of "manager"... Meanwhile, after his 20 years of service (and GOOD service mind you, he's been mentioned favorably in several stores) my father had to step down from his position, because most of the "old blood" is being pushed aside to make way for the new.

So, we've had companies try to intimidate us, con us, and bully us, I think that matches the definition of screwed over.

Meanwhile, thanks to the government I can actually attend college and not sink into debt, thanks to the government I was able to get proper care to help with my social disabilities (I've been officially identified as having Aspergers, though it was much more noticeable when I was younger), thanks to the government dad's company couldn't just outright fire him. As you can see, in most cases the odds are tipped in the government's favor at least in my life.

If you have to "glean" why Rand supports the Free Market then you aren't reading the right books, because she flat-out states why she supports it. The summary is that it's the only economic system which fits her moral views of individual rights.

Considering she kills a trainload of people in her books then goes into detail about why all of them, including children, deserved to die... Yeah, I couldn't care less about her "moral" views.

Hammartroll:
What would you want OP? No free market at all, or just more top down control than what we have? And to what degree? We don't have child labor laws anymore so what would you change in our current society and how?

Firstly get rid of corporate lobbying, then raise taxes on companies and the upper class as a whole, the creation of a universal healthcare system, more money spent on education so college students don't have to get hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to go to a good school, higher minimum wage, less tax loopholes, increase taxes on companies where the majority of labor has been outsourced, and finally to top it all off officially declare that corporations are not people.

Witty Name Here:

Because limited government power/ability to regulate just establishes that the government should "mind it's own business" and, in a sense, turn a blind eye towards all actions of the "Free Market" so long as people aren't being killed en masse.

Who the hell is arguing that the government should turn a blind eye to ALL actions that take place within the market? Who is arguing that violations of labor laws are PART of the free market?

Perhaps it would help if you actually defined "free market"?

Can't list a percentage

Then you can't rule out confirmation bias. Listing a few incidents is irrelevant, since I'm not doubting that they've happened.

1.) The time my mother was getting treatment for some serious back issues as a result of work (both my mother and father work in retail) our insurance company essentially threatened her with a private investigation into whether she was "really" injured (I saw her, she had enough pain getting out of bed in the morning, her injury was undeniably real) or just "mooching" off the system.

It's possible that they'd had a series of incidents with people cheating the system, and were trying to make sure it wasn't happening again. Had they gone through with the threat would anything bad have happened? Did they refuse to pay for her treatment?

Edit, also, yes, her pain was obvious to you because you were witnessing it. Was the insurance company? If not then you can't fault them for not being convinced by evidence they didn't have.

2.) During a health scare, my father went to a private clinic... The Doctor told him his blood work was "irregular" and essentially was scaring him into thinking he had a very rare, untreatable kind of Cancer. He sent my father off to get tests (of which we later found out he could have been making money from) at another clinic, my father spent weeks on end, paying for more blood work only for them to essentially say "it's nothing".

Has it occured to you that the first doctor was being entirely honest, the results WERE odd, they WERE signs of a potential problem, and getting more tests done was the only thing he could recommend as a competent physician? Or are you simply assuming, with no real evidence, that because the doctor could have been making money off of the tests he must have been deliberately tricking your father?

So, we've had companies try to intimidate us, con us, and bully us, I think that matches the definition of screwed over.

I never doubted that you've been screwed over.

As you can see, in most cases the odds are tipped in the government's favor at least in my life.

Actually I CAN'T see that, because I know you aren't giving a representative sample.

Considering she kills a trainload of people in her books then goes into detail about why all of them, including children, deserved to die... Yeah, I couldn't care less about her "moral" views.

And that's relevant to what I said, how?

Considering she kills a trainload of people in her books then goes into detail about why all of them, including children, deserved to die... Yeah, I couldn't care less about her "moral" views.

This is a gross misrepresentation of what happened, possible only from those who haven't read the book or who are lying about it. She never said they deserved to die. She said they created the system which inevitably led to their deaths. There is a difference.

Dinwatr:

Considering she kills a trainload of people in her books then goes into detail about why all of them, including children, deserved to die... Yeah, I couldn't care less about her "moral" views.

This is a gross misrepresentation of what happened, possible only from those who haven't read the book or who are lying about it. She never said they deserved to die. She said they created the system which inevitably led to their deaths. There is a difference.

Eh, not really. It's not about the words you use, it's about what you say, and what she said was essentially "but fuck them, really, had it coming". So I don't really see much difference.

The capitalist market should not exist in any form.

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