Monday, September 08, 2008
The free market
Republicans love to praise the free market. The free market makes everything better, right?
I remember a few years back, I saw a roadside stand with a large sign proclaiming they were selling "tomatoes that taste like tomatoes!"
Now, if the free market is such a great problem solver, why on earth would someone need a big sign saying they have a food that tastes like itself?
Because the free market doesn't solve problems. The free market makes money.
So, if grocery stores just want to sell "tomatoes", the free market will find a way to maximize the money folks can make, even if it means growing and selling tomatoes that taste like... well, that taste like a reminder that the last four letters of "tomatoes" are "t-o-e-s". Good tomatoes don't have a high enough profit margin, there's too much loss to spoilage, so they're out.
Harnessed correctly, a lively marketplace can solve a lot of problems, when creative people figure out how to accomplish things to make money. But once you harness a marketplace, you'll see people complaining bitterly that it's no longer free.
Well, when that happens, compare their bitterness to the bitterness of a low quality tomato from a major chain, and think about how the free market is not the cure for all ills.