(crossposted to The Reluctant Anarchist
To be fair, this post is inspired by something I read on Catallarchy
, though I don't remember quite what it was right now. Too much meat world extraneous stuff going on to really be that involved right now. Which is why you haven't heard from me in a few days.
This is also inspired by something my girlfriend Ridgely said a long time ago. She is awesome and has her own thing going on here
. She's a genius, but she's got her own (and sadly, much more entertaining) style and focus than I do. However, we share most of the same fundamental values and root ideas - and knowing that is a clue, for the diligent and wise, as to what you are going to read here.
A market is a mechanism for rationing scarce goods. (there is a deeper and more fundamental way of seeing what a market is, but others have said it better than I can right now, and it is not necessary to grok this post...)
In other words, people want X, and there is only so much X available, so people bid for their supply of X using tokens we call money. (or sometimes through direct barter, but that is not as effective)
Aside from all the other reasons why you might think markets are awesome, this is the truly miraculous, amazing thing about this mechanism: people that really want something have a better chance of getting it. In other words, production is driven by consumption, and the people get what they want.
That, aside from everything else, is the prime, ne plus ultra, awesomest justification for having a market economy. People get what they want. They don't get what they don't want.
Now when markets are restricted, for instance if there are price controls or heavy regulations, what determines who gets what first?
If there are only 10 of these thingamabobs and you can't sell them at the price people are willing to pay, how do you decide who gets them?
1. First come, first served. This is probably the most fair non-market way to distribute things, which is probably why statists hate it second only to the market. It is still basically an inefficient and unfair way to distribute things.
2. Random. It's random. Nuff said.
3. Status. This is the system that will most likely win out in the long run, because it's a way of paying without paying. This is how playground social dramas are worked out, and because of socialism/fascism, it is how the wider world tends to work.
One day, Ridgely and I were walking down Central Park West, past all the awesome apartment buildings there. We started talking about the approval boards for getting into one of those places and Ridgely said (one of her ancestors is a Livingston, another is a Hewitt) "Bill Gates couldn't get into the Dakota, but we could".
And that made me think. The conspiracy which is not a conspiracy is basically the result of replacing market transactions with connections. The "evils of capitalism" are mostly really the evils of mercantilism. If you look at the Forbes 400, very few of the old money families are near the top. Yet I don't think they just shriveled up. What they did is to store their power in a different form. They don't need that much money, because doors open to them, wherever they go.
It has been my belief for quite some time, that the statism which has infested America has been instigated by the most powerful members of society. In a sense, we live in a neo-mercantilism or subtle fascism. This makes sense because for them, markets are not the best way to distribute goods, but rather the hook-up system is. In fact markets threaten their status society. Reading a history of NYC recently, I got some evidence to that effect. The Metropolitan Opera was built by new money that couldn't get the good boxes at the old Academy of Music.
In a world of zoning and regulations, that kind of end-run around the ruling class is no longer possible, or at least highly improbable.
The past seeks to institutionalize itself at the expense of the future. Don't bow down to it.