I recently shared a pro-free-market education, anti-government school meme on Facebook (please disregard the Trump reference, it was the fact that the list of “disqualifying” facts were considered BAD by the meme maker, when in fact most of them are GOOD).
I also added the following commentary:
“UNQUALIFIED?? The farther I read, the better it got! I think the last line probably hits the nail on the head…it’s about the money. And, BTW: “for profit” means “free market”…and funny how they badmouth “for profit education”, but then complain about “funneling money out of public education”…a little hypocrisy with your coffee this morning?”
Then, somebody responded thusly:
“The trouble with the free market in education and prisons and healthcare is that the focus then become profit over service. because humans are like that. if it worked as desired, I’d be all over it – but with humans involved, we need regulations, and that totally blows.”
Now, this comment is so misguided, I felt it required a response, a little education was called for. Well, my response turned out to be rather lengthy, so I decide to convert it to this blog article:
“No, with all due respect, you have it exactly backwards.
When free-market businesses start putting profit over service, then they start losing their customers and either change their policies or go out of business. Look at Sears (I used to work there). Or Borders Bookstore (I worked there too, same thing).
Only when they are protected by the state can they get away with putting profit over service. And “regulation” by the government simply informs the industry which politician they need to bribe for privilege and protection.
Both Sears and Borders went (or are going) out of business because they put profit over serving their customers, and neither has the protection of the state. (I’ve written of the Sears phenomenon: The Death of Sears: A Study in Corporate Suicide).
The difference between the private and public sectors, with your correct observation “with humans involved, we need regulations”, is there is no regulation of the humans working for the state, which is premised on force, but the market regulates humans working in the private sector, precisely because it is premised on volition. I’d much rather do voluntary business with private enterprise which I can cease whenever it no longer serves me, than with the state where I have no power, no say, and am stuck with whatever they decide to do, at whatever cost they decide to exact to do it.
The cost of education has obscenely skyrocketed, and yet nobody’s getting educated, and the cost of health care has obscenely skyrocketed, and yet nobody’s getting healthy—all because they’re “regulated” by the government, rather than being provided by private enterprise operating in a free and open marketplace.
And I’ve oft stated that technology is solving the problem of human “regulation” via blockchain technology—total transparency. Problem with top-down hierarchical accountability systems is you can’t have a perpetual hierarchy, eventually there has to be someone at the top (like, say, government and/or corporate leaders), and there’s nobody to regulate THEM, so they get away with all sorts of corruption and criminality and as a result fantastically enrich and empower themselves (you know, sort of like we’re seeing today).
With blockchain, you don’t need hierarchical supervisory/accountability systems because everything everybody does is recorded in a permanent, public ledger, which everyone involved has access to and can review at any time. Suddenly, nobody—even at the top levels—can get away with breaking the rules and screwing everyone else.”
To this, they responded:
“Certainly, that is the free market/libertarian position. And I get it. I guess I don’t trust humans to run a free market any better than we run governments. sigh. I am stuck in a faithless space where none can win (THAT could make a good star trek episode!) And so, I continue reading Fourth Turning, with some trepidation on the size of the crisis and some hope that we come out better on the other side.”
To which I summed up:
“Next time Apple, or Samsung, or Ford, or Whole Foods or Vitamin Shoppe or some other big corporation sends armed thugs to your door to assualt you, tase you, seize your property, cage you, or kill you (or your dog) because you refuse to buy their products or do their bidding, let me know. Then I may reconsider my position.”