Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Just let The Market work!"

I know, I owe you guys a guinea update. :-) Working on it. Meanwhile, I just made this comment over on Richard Black's BBC environment blog, and kind of liked the way it turned out - so, I'll repeat it here. This is part and parcel of the Sociopathic Business syndrome- the insistence that The Market will solve all problems - if only those nasty regulators will allow it to-


A couple of years ago, I got a nice lesson in reality. My very ugly truck was stolen.

I'd bought the truck specifically as a farm-only vehicle; ugly but functional. Very ugly, rusty; but mechanically reliable, like a tractor. "Nobody in their right mind would steal it", was our firm belief, so it was left commonly in the field, in sight of the public road, where we were working. Everyone agreed- "nobody would ever steal that old piece of junk". We de-registered it; no license, since it never went off the farm.

Guess what? Some people- who were NOT in their right mind, but hopped on meth - stole it, and wrecked it. Actually causing us substantial loss; it was a tool we needed.

Now- I'm not considered a dumb person- but how did I forget that the world is teeming with people "not in their right mind"?

Humans are outstanding at simultaneously believing two different things- which they know are mutually exclusive; "incompossible", as they used to say. First world farmers, for example know that if they don't produce as much food as possible, "the world will starve"; and simultaneously know that overproduction of food is responsible for their low prices and constant dance with bankruptcy. So they support burning the food they grow, and get very huffy about it if you suggest that burning food is, um, questionable.

SR wrote:
"I think what a lot of people tend to forget is that if it weren't for market mechanisms and the *generally* efficient allocation of scarce resources thereof, we would still be floundering in something resembling a Dicken's novel."

The concept that "markets efficiently allocate resources" is another one of these beguiling fantasies. I'm delighted to see the "generally" added- perhaps a bit of reality is slipping in.

The illusion stems from an underlying and rarely stated part of the belief; which is that markets will, and do- operate "honestly".

All of history- and blatantly all of very recent history- agrees that markets NEVER operate honestly. Never. It just doesn't happen. Never has. The Code of Hammurabi contains death penalties for people who cheat in business.

Sure, there are plenty of plain honest business people who run beautifully honest operations (I'm one, in fact). And in case you hadn't noticed, they're the ones who wind up in the newspapers- for going bankrupt, after years of hard honest work. While the dishonest ones- wind up in the papers for mind-blowing bonuses; wrist-slap legal fines for their illegal operations; and the fact they resent being called dishonest.

It has always been that way. Yes, indeed, markets allocate resources fairly; and if my Aunt had wheels, she'd be a Ferrari.

Or we could always say, anyone in their right mind, will obviously conduct business honestly and fairly.

That'll work.


What they teach, in the Business School Of Sociopathy- is that if you simply keep repeating the mantra of "The Market Will Solve All Problems" - a huge number of voters will believe it, forever. Which will then ensure that Regulations are kept to a minimum; and "business opportunities" are not abridged.

Which means- opportunities for theft, fraud, and piracy- will alway be available; thank goodness.


That post on the BBC generated some following discussion; maybe worth looking at...


tickmeister said...

As I see it, resources will be allocated either by the market or the politicians. I have more faith in the market.

For some time, these choices have been made by a collaberation among politicans, corporate criminals, and bankers, not any sort of free market.

If we could limit politicians to one term and imprison those who commit financial fraud, we might get a chance to evaluate a free market. We will do neither and will therefore get to live through a crushing depression as our society evolves to a penal colony.

That's if we're lucky. We may starve or be murdered by our government benefactors first.

Life is better since I became an optimist.

Greenpa said...

Ticky - ah, those nasty ifs. :-)