Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Conservatives in the Marketplace of Ideas

Businessmen are in business to do business. They work in the free market and will do what it takes to do business. Even if it means shutting up.

Champions in the free market of goods and services, these same businessmen have conceded control of the marketplace of ideas to people who distrust and despise them.

So says Fred Smith on the Forbes site.

The controlling powers in the marketplace of ideas have spun out an anti-capitalist narrative: capitalism is corrupt; capitalism exploits the poor and disadvantaged; capitalism destroys the environment; capitalism discriminates against just about everyone.

These charges, Smith explains, are offered up schools and colleges, even in business schools. They are constantly repeated in the mainstream media.

And yet, those who function in the marketplace of ideas need business and need capitalism. It is the reason for their jobs.

They also recognize that calls for smaller government mean less money for them. So they tamp down policy proposals that would translate into less pay, less power and less authority for them.

Smaller government is a catchy slogan. It is surely the right way to go. For people who work in government it is an existential threat.

Merchants of ideas and merchants of goods seem, however to have reached something of an accommodation.

Those who trade in ideas are far less wealthy than successful businessmen. In exchange for allowing businessmen to accumulate vast fortunes, they have been compensated with control over the marketplace of ideas.

It is almost as though businessmen are willing to allow others control their minds because they have been well paid for it.

Thus, one finds businessmen, from Wall Street bankers to Silicon Valley tycoons mouthing politically correct thoughts without the least awareness that these ideas have been promulgated by people who detest them and what they stand for.

If businessmen are willing to trade their good names for lucre, they are as venal and unprincipled as their critics think they are.

On the simplest level, businessmen know that it is costly to challenge the masters of ideas. In some cases they are going to be harassed by government regulators, or even the IRS. In other cases, their reputations will be attacked by zealous advocacy groups.

Businessmen do not speak up because they have been subjected to threats and intimidation.

When they call in advisers to tell them what to do, they are told that they should go along to get along. It’s the cost of doing business.

Smith explains:

Finding it difficult to speak out and being practical, business leaders often seek out experts for advice. But many said “experts” share the intellectuals’ skepticism toward business. Thus, these advisors—vice presidents of environment, affirmative action, human resources—often tell executives that appeasing their critics will stop the political attacks upon the firm. The result is that business leaders who do speak out are often as critical of business as anyone. Soft drink executives apologize for selling sugary drinks, energy executives ask people to use less gasoline. That never works. Next thing you know, chemical companies will be apologizing for the periodic table!

Smith believes that businessmen can solve the problem by retaking the narrative:

A defense of economic freedom requires an understanding of the crafting of narratives at which academics, intellectuals, and other second-hand dealers in ideas excel. To take back the board room for capitalism, free marketers need to make their presence felt in the nation’s campuses, newsrooms, publishers, and film studios.

The problem is: many businessmen do not know how to craft narratives. They did not get to where they are by their powers of conceptual thought.

As Smith points out, they are great at making things happen, but not so great when it comes to developing a concept.

If your side does not know how to develop a concept, you will be outcompeted by those who do.

Witness the last Republican presidential candidate. The Republican Party nominated a successful businessman who could not articulate a coherent set of ideas. It nominated a man who was lost in the marketplace of ideas. And it ran several other notable candidates who were notably witless.

Admittedly, the party ran a supposedly great thinker for the vice presidency. But that left it trying to defend an Ayn Rand view of capitalism. It is fair to say that Rand is not the most sophisticated thinker out there and that her views, whatever their merit, are easy to caricature as cold and heartless.  

Anyone who thinks that Paul Ryan was anything but disappointing has not been paying attention. Those who promoted Ryan as the best and the brightest seem to have misjudged.

Republicans did not do much better in 2008, either. Today, a party whose public voice is very often that of John McCain is not going to articulate the case for capitalism or for any other conservative policies.

Smith does not mention it, but if Republicans want to articulate a stronger defense of capitalism they need candidates who have the verbal and conceptual skills to make the case.

Businessmen can themselves do more to assert the value of their enterprise.

They can, as has often been suggested, stop contributing to universities. It’s one thing to be incapable of mounting a good defense of free markets. It’s quite another to fund the people who are trying to destroy you. If they are not trying to destroy your business they are certainly trying to destroy your public reputation.

Smith ignores conservative media outlets, but I imagine that he is saying that their influence pales into insignificance when compared to the mainstream media.

It would certainly be a good thing for more conservative businessmen to buy important media outlets. As in, the Koch brothers’ interest in the Los Angeles Times.

Clearly, that will not suffice. In truth, the cause of free market capitalism needs spokesmen and women who can frame the message and communicate it effectively.

In one way, at least, Smith shows what is wrong with the way conservatives express their ideas. When he entitles his article: "Why Are Businessmen So Lacking in Self-Esteem" he trafficking in a shopworn cliche. If you are going to argue that conservatives need to do better at expressing their ideas, a good place to start is to learn how to express your own in a way that does not sound like liberal psychobabble.


Anonymous said...

I am the same Anonymous as on the Problem with Empathy post. The problem I have with anyone who advocates the benefits of the so-called "free market" is that the actual customs of law, finance, and accounting do not comport with the economic philosophy of the so-called "free market" economy. The actual social customs suggest there is no such thing as a "free market," there are only those who beleive in this mythological idea, or who advocate this mythology to hide the truth of the real motive which is to gain strategic advantage by gaming the legal and financial system while pretending to compete in a "free" market.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you, Anon. Do you believe, for example, that free will exists? If there are no free markets, then one assumes that there is also no free will. But, if not, then the question becomes who is oppressing whom? Doesn't this sound like a rationalization for continued oppression? Do you believe that there is a significant difference between Mao's China and Deng's China?

Dennis said...

Remove the government and its entities and the "free market" DOES comport with the customs of law, finance and accounting. In fact that is why the legal, financial and accounting systems (FASB, et al) developed.
In order to sell to a lot of people one has to maintain a legal frame work, a history of honesty, maintenance of accounting for just keeping the business operating. It does not take long for buyers to recognize they are not dealing with a reputable person and take their business else where.
Only the government can make it possible for the interaction between the buyer and the seller tip one way or the other. The difference between "crony capitalism, et al and rent control per se.
Social customs have little to do with the "free market." They have existed in many parts of the world. Move away from areas where governments try to control the markets and it works better than any other system. People generally help their neighbors in times of need, actually know their neighbors and maintain amicable relations.
How does one game the legal and financial system? By the use of government who is the real culprit here. The mythology here is that we have a "free market system." We haven't had a "free market" for years. The larger the government the less free the markets. Are the citizens of NY clamoring for smaller drink sizes or is it the government? Take any product that people want and it is the government who is trying to limit and control it.
Every business wants to try and get a strategic advantage, but they can only maintain that as long as they can meet the buyer's needs at a price that is fair to them or the government steps in and changes the dynamic.
Name the system that you think does a better job and it won't take long to decimate it from any of the points you have little knowledge. All systems have their problems, but those would be rectified by the market if not for government. Governments are why we bailout businesses that are failing. They should have been allowed to fail. They would have had to become "lean" and take the requisite actions in order to survive and prosper.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, are you really interested in having a conversation about this, or are you just pontificating?

Who is this "anyone" you are referring to who is advocating what? I might agree or disagree with you, but I must have a context to operate in. Mythology is ideology in narrative form. So, which myth(s) are you referring to? Whose "motives" are we to examine?

A "free market" is a market where one is free to exchange goods according to the norms and rules of the market itself, as established by consenting participants. No one forces anyone to enter a market.

Under a free market, the people accept rules for law, accounting and finance that allow for a level playing field... where people have the same information about how the market operates. Otherwise, what's the point in bothering?

People "game" these structures when they are able to exert unfair influence. When this tampering occurs at the level of regulatory authority (specifically, government or market fiduciaries, such as the NYSE), it is commonly referred to as corruption. Corruption is different from the "strategic advantage" you are referring to. Corruption is the abuse of power. It deserves our disgust.

"Strategic advantage" is an ability to gain leverage according to the rules of the market. Market participants may not be thrilled that they cannot counter a given strategic advantage, but such advancements are what rationalize markets and make products/services more efficient. This usually lowers prices for the consumer, and causes producers to counter or creatively counter so as to survive. Nothing evil in that, unless you’re a whiner. This is also how the majority of American people living in poverty are able to afford to acquire air conditioning and cable television.

A "free market" does not mean anarchy, which is what I understand you are equating it to. A free market is not a free-for-all. If it is anarchy, you don't have a market. That's when you get hoarding, banditry, poverty and early death. It's unworkable because there is no structure. It’s not a legitimate market. This is how you get a “black market,” which is dangerous because it either fosters or exists in environments where there is hoarding, banditry, poverty and early death. It’s a lot like our urban centers today, such as Detroit. These places don’t have “free markets” because officials have characterized capitalism as evil. That’s why such places feature hoarding, banditry, poverty and early death. Denial doesn’t work. Pretending something were not so does not prevent it from happening. Free markets have lifted more people out of poverty than any other materialistic concept ever devised. It would be nice if Detroit residents had an opportunity to find this out for themselves.

If we had limited government that acted as an impartial referee on economic matters, we would have a relatively free market. Things like currency, licensure, a court system to handle disputes in a civilized way, punishment for those who act outside the rules of the market, etc. Human reality does not often conform to an all-or-nothing, theoretical academic construct, like the myth you seem to buy into.

Everyone is looking for advantage. The problem today is that the American government has become so large and intertwined with the markets it regulates that it actually behaves as an economic actor. That allows people to create unfair deals (such as "crony capitalism") for the sake of their own aggrandizement. That's corruption.

You are questioning people's motives, and not naming people who are doing this. Will you please stop referring to a nameless, faceless "they" who are gaming the legal, financial and accounting systems and give us your theory as to WHY they are able to do this?


Anonymous said...

One other thing...

This country was established as a constitutionally-limited federal republic. Unfortunately, power is now more centralized. People don’t know what they’re missing because they’ve (a) been "educated" to fear free markets that they’ve largely never had; and (b) government has become so large, intrusive and corrupt that a truly free market that you describe is impossible. But that doesn’t make it unworthy of pursuit anymore than feeding every hungry child in America is unworthy of pursuit.

When government becomes an economic actor that competes for resources with the private sector, you no longer have an impartial referee. You progressively (pardon the pun) get more hoarding, banditry, poverty and early death.

Free markets are the economic hallmark of a vibrant civilization, and the key indicator of individual freedom that makes that civilization possible.


Anonymous said...

There is an argument that because something is bad if it is not pure, perfect and entirely positive. This is always the argument from the Left. There is injustice in the world, so we have to destroy what we have so we can build some utopian vision that is impossible to implement. Those who cannot accept humanity’s fallen nature always champion the utopian vision (see: Rousseau’s writings… all of them). They come to believe that they alone are pure, perfect and positive. This invariably leads to disaster, and the outcome is always barbarism because the leaders always say they need more, more, more power and resources to fulfill their utopia. Meanwhile, they fail to acknowledge this human longing for “more” as the core problem. Index finger outstretched, they will invariably state the problem is with "those people.” Yet they are really pointing to a problem with all of us, humanity in general. The truth is that the utopian hates humanity. Human beings are an impediment to the pure, perfect and entirely positive. The grand vision is never realized, and the utopian leaders always exempt themselves from the real consequences. Repeat.

Capitalism is a materialistic economic philosophy without a soul. It is another "ism.” It's not perfect, nor are we. We are fallen creatures. Still, history shows capitalism to be the best alternative to material suffering and misery. Similarly, democracy is not perfect, but many will say it seems to be the best alternative. I challenge this notion and counter with the American Founding. The United States Constitution is the most brilliant instrument ever devised for the government of man. It represents the apex of Enlightenment thinking, after which Western civilization dissolved into chaos with the utopian model of the French Revolution. Our Constitution was not perfect, and we had a Civil War to prove it. Still, the Constitution upholds all that man can bring with his creative faculties, while designing a government that diminishes what man will do with centralized power. It makes free markets possible. We ignore its message to our folly. We ignore human nature.

Presidents and Senators and Representatives and bureaucrats, etc. all think they know what is best for me and how I should lead my life. The free market of exchange (to whatever degree) may not be perfect, but I greatly prefer the liberty it provides. The alternative is government "authorities" telling me what I should, must, ought and have to buy… in specified quantities and at “fair” prices. They seek to control human nature, yet we realize over and over again that they can’t control it, and that they the powerful fail spectacularly in very human ways. Still we demand government do more, more, more.

It's better to get screwed-over by some merchant providing a service and be able to choose to go somewhere else next time than it is to be required to purchase a product or service because the almighty, all-knowing government official knows what’s best for me. Centralized government is the modern tyranny. That is where we are today. And its growth is accelerating.

This blog is entitled "Had Enough Therapy?" The reason we read and comment on it is that we have had enough. Therapy is fine for healing, provided it works. But therapeutic concepts have become cultural imperatives, and a framework for how we are told to interact. This is something new, and something that therapy cannot deliver. It sounds nice, but it is plainly dishonest. It doesn’t work. People have come to expect that their lives will be pure, perfect, and entirely positive. When they discover life doesn’t work that way, they are shocked. It blows their minds. I credit this to a complete breakdown in the traditional nuclear family and the failure of educational institutions to provide practical, aesthetic and physical education. Instead, we expect third parties to substitute for families and ideological, feelings-based indoctrination to substitute for real education. It is insane.


Anonymous said...

Tip, I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I found this paper The Free Market and Its Enemies that I will take time to read based on a talk by Ludwig von Mises. Unfortunately it is 111 pages.


Regarding "free will," I am inclined to view it as an illusion. Human social systems evolve from the emergences of a highly conditioned will due to the realities of dependency in childhood, the limits on the ability to reason and communicate, and then the limits on will and the competition of wills, result in the features of market and government that we have. Banks blow up so depositors want the government of provide FDIC insurance, for example, so the will of the people is to have both markets and government, even if some people idealize the role of free will and free markets.

Anonymous said...


That said, I'm not sure why you even posted your comment. Based on your worldview, it seems like a pointless exercise.

If you view free will as an illusion, then our onversation s at an impasse. Everything I shared is dependent on free will, necessitating choice. If you don't believe in free will, you are either programmed by your God to a predestined life, or you are a bumbling sack of protoplasm. Or perhaps you don't believe there is a reality at all, which makes this whole conversation moot. Any way you look at it, you're doomed to a rigged game, which likely drives your assertion that free markets are a rigged game.

I do not agree at the most basic level. Hence, the impasse.

And I do not have the time to read a 111-page treatise, though I am quite familiar with Von Mises. I wish you the best of luck on your illusive endeavor. And if you don't believe in free will, it all doesn't much matter what we're all about, because the outcome is preordained. My best to you...


Dennis said...


Enjoyed your Mythology comment. In fact I added it to an APP called "Scraps" that I keep ideas and quotes that intrigue or represent my approach to life. If you are not the originator, please let me know the source.
Anon just seems too "Woe is me" for me. Without free will there is no responsibility for one's actions. There seems to be no joy in the challenges of life, the willingness to tilt at windmills and to dream of all the great things that are possible if only we believe in ourselves and our ability to work towards the goals we see as desirable.
That was my opinion from earlier comments.

Dennis said...

From my Scraps collection;

"Certainly the game is rigged.
Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet you can't win."

Robert A. Neinlein

Anonymous said...

Reality places many constraints on my will. Your will is free from the constraints of reality?

Ludwig Von Mises (LVM) claims his science of economics is based on an axiom: human action is based on a preference to change a state of the world. From this axiom, as in math or geometry, one may generate the knowledge of economics because the human mind supports this type of symbolic reasoning. So far I agree that this effort at symbolic reason is possible but perhaps not the special claim that economics is an objective science based on such logic.

In the paper cited above LVM also recognizes that in the real world one cannot escape politics and the stories of history in the study of economics. He says in the context of history there is no objective causal model. One cannot isolate the sole cause of historical events. Causal narratives about history are mythological stories.

I regard the concept of "free markets" as one of these made up stories despite the claim of LVM that it is a form of objective logic similar to the ability to grasp geometry or math. When LVM blames the government consistently for causing inflation, while Keynes blames the credit markets via banks and other financial intermediaries as a joint cause of inflation and deflation, LVM discounts the causal model of Keynes. He infers from logic a model in which the government is always the cause of inflation or deflation. But he admits reality is too complex to identify the causes of inflation and deflation in the real world.

My intuition runs the opposite. If we keep government to a minimum and let banks and financial intermediaries have freedom to let the middle class and poor go into debt to purchase the output of society, the result will be inflation and deflation, with no input from the "corrupt" government. Human action via the desire to consume, save, invest, and create financial instruments from thin air is sufficient in my logic to create inflationary investment booms followed by a deflationary bust. I suppose this is also a form of mythology in as much as no one can convince the other side of his vision of economic logic ... so observation of the social debates informs me that economics is not at all like geometry or math in this regard.

Anonymous said...

Keynes is credited with creating macroeconomics, which is the study of the institutions and interactions you refer to. It's about the interactions of credit markets and government influence of said markets. It really should be called "marionetteism."

Ludwig Von Miseus did not believe there was any such thing as macroeconomics. He asserted there was only microeconomics, and that everything else scaled from there. I'm inclined to agree with him, and that human beings do ndividually want to change and shape their world in some meaningful way.

And who ever said that economics is like "geometry or math"? Did you make that up, Anonymous? That is laughable. Economics is about the study of human choices. As soon as you can come to a definitive conclusion about human choices, let us all know. If economics was a science like geometry or math, it would be able to predict outcomes with great precision. It cannot, and no one claims it can. If you've duped yourself into believing otherwise, then I understand your thread now, particularly your denial of free will, a denial that fuels your skepticism about economics. You must view human beings as bumbling sacks of protoplasm. And again, we disagree at the most fundamental level. You are countering your own preconceived ideas about the mythology of economics and free markets with your own mythology about human nature.

Patently bizarre. You must wake up every day so disappointed in your fellow man, and terrified of him and the irrational choices he makes each day. I am sad for you. That must be terrifying. Things will change when you accept humanity as it is, not as the perfectable creature your mind imagines. Good luck with that.


Anonymous said...

And Anonymous, if you do find a way to perfect man and make you do his bidding, please contact President Obama at the White House and let him know about it.

Our president seems to be struggling with the same thing you are. He is very frustrated that other people are not doing what he thinks most wise and in their own best interest. Which, of course, aligns with what he knows is in his best interest. Funny how it always works out that way, isn't it? It's almost as though human beings were not always logical and rational. You know, the way we'd hoped and imagined they'd be? Nothing like reality to set one's ego back a few notches.

And you may want to give Paul Krugman a buzz after that, as he is dealing with similar issues with human impediments to his grand economic vision. If only the rest of us were smart enough to understand the great Krugman, all would be well.


Anonymous said...

@Dennis 5/16/13 5:38 AM

Dennis, my friend, I sadly cannot accept admission into your pantheon of quotes without prope attribution. Using my free will and onscience to eschew the possibility of dishonest fame, I will have you know that the quote is from Bruce Lincoln at the Univerity of Chicao Divinity School. The quote came from the very intresting paper referenced below:




Anonymous said...

Tip, I notice you did not answer my question about whether your will is free from constraints of reality?

In reality, the reference that I posted, attributed to Ludwig Von Mises, has this quote on page 15 (pdf page 34):

--- Quote ---
The way in which economic knowledge, economic theory , and so on relate to economic history and everyday life is the same as the relation of logic and mathematics to our grasp of the natural sciences. Therefore, we
can eliminate this anti-egoism and accept the fact that the teachings of economic theory are derived from reason. Logic and mathematics are derived in a similar way from reason; there is no such thing as experiment
and laboratory research in the field of mathematics. According to one mathematician, the only equipment a mathematician needs is a pencil, a piece of paper, and a wastebasket—his tools are mental.
But, we may ask, how is it possible for mathematics, which is some-thing developed purely from the human mind without reference to the external world and reality, to be used for a grasp of the physical universe that exists and operates outside of our mind?
--- End Quote ----

Prior to this quote LVM claims there is no determinative causal model in the study of history or of economics as history. He then says one can infer from reason the logic of outcomes in economics. This is not what we do in physics and engineering. We measure states of the world and use mathematical models to approximate reality in fields where the complexity of human action do not introduce the concept of human causation.

In law one encounters the concept of sole cause or joint cause of some event. In economics the preference of individuals is to form markets and government. This prefeence then causes both markets and government to be a joint cause of outcomes. There is no agreement among economists on such matters as the cause of inflation or deflation whereas we tend to agree on the logical definition of points, lines, circles, 2 + 2 = 4, etc.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, this conversation is quite odd. I have no idea what we're talking about. We're talking about free markets and free will, and now we're talking about the "constraints of reality?"

Of course I am not exempt from the scientific laws and rules of physical reality. I am in this material world, and violate its precepts at my peril.

When we discuss free will, we are talking about metaphysics. People have choices about what they make symbols mean, and take action in attempt to create their own reality, or create an outcome agreeable to their desires. They act upon physical reality. Their choices determine whether or not they will act or not act. That's it. That's free will.

What you fail to acknowledge is the fact that human beings can choose to ignore the laws of economics (such as inflation, deflation, etc.). I am asking you: why do human beings willingly seek to defy those laws? Why do currencies inflate? Because people have a choice about whether they want to follow these laws. They can say 2 + 2 = 5. It doesn't make it so when we take the exercise to its logical conclusion, but they may still believe it.

What do you do then? What do you do when people use their free will to believe a nonsensical equation? What most statists do with such a person is imprison or kill them. Those who truly love freedom say that person will be socially marginalized until they get with the program. There are economic feedback loops that will interfere with their ability to earn a living. This makes economics a social enterprise, in addition to the laws of nature. Yet our modern economy is laden with non-rational actors and sludged with subsidies that insulate people from the consequences of their actions. What do you do with them?

And will you please explain this sentence, as it makes no sense: "This is not what we do in physics and engineering. We measure states of the world and use mathematical models to approximate reality in fields where the complexity of human action do not introduce the concept of human causation."

I'm sorry to break this to you, but human beings make choices that may be unreasonable, irrational and illogical all the time. That is because of free will. Humanity is not a science experiment.

I also will point out that you have not answered my question about WHY people are able to game the system, which is the foundation of your argument that there is no "free market." How and why are they able to do this? It's because of corruption, and corruption is a consequence of free will.


Stuart Schneiderman said...

Here's a remark from a John Grey review of a book about Edmund Burke. For Anon's edification:

"Showing that Burke developed a coherent body of ideas is a harder task. Summarising what he sees as Burke’s chief themes, Norman writes: “He is effectively making a series of rather sophisticated and challenging philosophical points: that absolute consistency, however desirable in mathematics and logic, is neither available nor desirable in the conduct of human affairs; that universal principles are never sufficient in themselves to guide practical deliberation; and that it is a deep error to apply concepts from the exact sciences willy-nilly to the messy business of life.” There is nothing particularly original in any of this. Aristotle said much the same when he observed that it’s a mistake to look for a greater degree of precision in a subject than the nature of the subject allows."

Anonymous said...

Stuart introduced the term "free will" as a concept associated with the term "free markets." I simply said I regard free will as an illusion. I further assert that if reality constrains my will, then by degrees of constraint, my will is not free, but subject to the conditions one observes as reality.

So I experience reality as either something that sustains and aids my will, or something that constrains or opposes it. I understand how my will relates to reality, contrary to assertions that I must not know something about the nature of reality to speak as I do.

Galileo invented measurement methods to test Aristotle's statements about motion and found them wrong. More precision was possible in the realm of science where we can take measurments to test our logic against objectively generated perceptions. I think Galileo is quoted as saying that certain ideas of the "great philosophers" caused him much pain. This pain perhaps would have been less if other apes were able to grasp the significance of Galileo's ideas in his lifetime. I chalk this limit on the will, to grasp a right idea easily, up to the nature of human beings as apes who generate pleasure about the ideas of other apes even if they are right or wrong, simply due to the parents or authority figures having these ideas, one prefers it to a better idea of set of customs. This is not simply a process of individual will, it is a procees of collective karma or customs which one is inclined to follow by default.

The so-called "laws" of economics abstract away from the complexity of human action and temporarily ignore the inability to isolate a unique cause of events in history. These are ideals which cannot be proven or disproven by any social experiments. There is no "law" of inflation or deflation, supply or demand (which are by the way a macroeconomic property), that can be falsified by a controlled experiment as with the proposed laws of physics.

Gaming the system is much more effective when gets in bed with the government but pretends to be better at gaining strategic advantage in "free markets." In reality one is preaching "free markets" and practicing corruption. That is a lot closer to how the parties in our society opperate than any actual market with a "level playing field" or with "Competitive Advantage" gained by being in an industry with barriers to entry based on the customs of society (natural monopolies enjoy natural barriers to entry of competitors and limit competition in these market sectors).

Stuart Schneiderman said...

If you don't believe in freedom would you be bothered if someone took your "freedom" away? Would you care if, instead of being able to choose between a number of different kinds of soap or string beans, you were offered one kind, People's soap and told to take it or leave it?

Do you believe in a woman's freedom to choose whether or not to abort?

It does seem to me that nations have tried to run economies on something other than free market principles and have produced unthinkable levels of destitution.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying one has no free choice except to fear a loss of freedom, and therefore, no free will in the matter?

I do not wish to be subject to coercion against my will. I do not confuse my desire to be free from coercion with with the illusion that I have "free" will rather than will that that operates under many constraints and conditions.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Here's the question, as Tip has repeatedly asked: if you make a mistake, who is responsible? If you do not exercise free will, thus have a free choice, how can you be responsible? If you succumb to this or that temptation, is the temptress responsible? If you have no free will then clearly someone else must be responsible.

Anonymous said...

How does society determine who is responsible for a crime or tort? Do I have "free" will within this social process, or must I conform my will to the will of others as well due to the nature of human relations? Liberty is the potential to act via choice coupled to the inner and outer constraints I experience to narrow my choice. Where do the constraints come from, my "will?"

Suppose I am inclined to follow the medical dictim, "Do no harm." Am I free to choose how to act, or am I bound to determine the causes of harm and to refrain from being a cause of harm? How does responsibility make me free to act any way I choose? Responsibility acts as a restriction on the infantile wish to enjoy "free" will.