Categories
economics

Free Markets?

Twitter restricts a person’s ability to post something that the company disagrees with, so Twitter censors it. A company sells a product that Amazon web hosting doesn’t like, so the company finds out that its webhosting has been shut down. Many companies take punitive actions against their customers because they CAN. This can be done as a form of political or social engineering, or it can be done as a form of manipulating the marketplace to maximize profitability. No matter why it is done, one thing that you always hear is “If you don’t like it, you can start your own company. That’s capitalism.”

No it isn’t. Let me explain why. What a person means when they say “that’s capitalism” is actually referring to a free market where private parties own the means of production and commerce, and market forces dictate what happens in the marketplace. That isn’t what we have here.

Let me use my recent experience with my LGS as an example. Let’s say that I decide that I am so unhappy with how they do business that I want to open my own gun store with a shooting range. What would it take to make that happen?

  • I need to get a license from the Federal Government to sell firearms
  • I need to get a permit from the state to collect sales tax
  • I need to get zoning approval
  • I need to get building permits
  • In order to have an indoor range, I need special ventilation in order to meet indoor air quality regulations
  • I need a business license.

In all, I need permission from more than 10 Federal, state, and local government entities in order to run my business. On top of that, I have banks, credit card processors, shipping companies, and other suppliers of services to deal with. All it takes is for your competitor (that existing LGS) to have friends at one of those entities, and your quest to open your own gun range just got exponentially harder and more expensive.

That isn’t a free market. This is why someone can’t simply “Start their own YouTube” or go out and build whatever business they want. I own three different businesses. The regulatory hoops are incredible, and don’t just come from government. You can’t be a lawyer without being a member of the bar association, for instance. (The bar isn’t a government agency, but they decide who can be a lawyer, and by extension, a judge.)

An example: One business that I own is a travel agency. I have memberships in industry organizations like CLIA, ATA, and IATA. Many hotels, cruise lines, resorts, and other entities that I do business with won’t talk to you unless you are a member of one or more of these organizations at a cost of thousands of dollars per year. If you don’t kiss their rings, you won’t have a travel business. They decide who sells travel and who doesn’t. That isn’t free market.

Amazon is another example. Amazon is the 800 pound gorilla in the room when it comes to Internet commerce. As many conservative businesses are discovering, it is difficult to have a significant Internet presence if Amazon is opposed to it. That is one reason why I started this blog on its own server, a server that is located outside of the country. It’s why I share that server with other blogs. For being an entity that makes no money, it’s expensive, but it is the only way to be free to say what we want.

One thing I have learned from running a business- this country isn’t even close to having a free market.

On a side note- donations are always appreciated to keep the lights on here. I pay out of pocket to keep this place open, and any help is appreciated. I have a Patreon, the link is below.

One reply on “Free Markets?”

One of the problems with ‘you can make your own X’ that’s been discovered of late is when you have several elements working in conjunction to prevent you from doing so. Payment processors, for example.

So if AWS delists you, and then your payment processor says ‘We won’t do business with you any more’, AND Twitter kicks you off… it’s like digital unpersoning, and it’s crippling. Worse, trying to bootstrap means fighting those elements.

And as you noted, they are often the beneficiaries of regulatory capture, where they can wield government requirements like a club.

Comments are closed.